A Somali minister has said the problem of piracy in the region is being made worse by those countries deploying warships off the coast. Abdul Karis Osman Issa, public works minister in semi-autonomous Puntland, said investment should be directed at building mainland security instead.

WARSHIPHe said ransom payments to pirates mean they are better financed and armed than the regional government. Meanwhile, Mogadishu is reportedly calm after three days of fierce fighting. But correspondents in the city say clashes between pro-government forces and opposition Islamist groups could resume at any time.

More than 50 people have been killed in the clashes, which began on Thursday and escalated late on Saturday in a district close to the presidential palace. Somalia, a nation of about eight million people, has experienced almost constant conflict since the collapse of its central government in January 1991.



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