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Mogadishu clashes leave 13 dead


Friday, June 20, 2008
MOGADISHU (AFP) — At least 13 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu when fighting broke out between Islamic insurgents and Ethiopian forces, witnesses and officials said Friday.

The clashes erupted late Thursday after insurgents attacked Gulwadeyaasha camp, a Somali government base in southern Mogadishu, as well as a stadium where Ethiopian forces are based.

Ethiopian troops -- who have been supporting the transitional Somali government -- retaliated by raining mortar fire on surrounding neighbourhoods.

Four civilians, two of them children, were killed when a mortar shell smashed into their home in the southern Wardhigley neighbourhood, relatives and residents told AFP.

"My uncle's wife, two of her chilrdren and a guest were killed when a mortar shell struck their house. We are now planning for their burial," Ahmed Abdulahi Gobe, a relative, said.

In another incident, five members of the same familly were killed in the northern Gubta neighbourhood.

"Mortar shells rained down on our neighbourhood and so far I have seen five innocent civilians from the same family killed, three of them children," local elder Husein Yusuf Ahmed said.

Ali Ibrahim Moalim, another local resident, gave the same death toll and added that seven others were wounded in the violence.

Several witnesses also told AFP that two civilians were killed in Mogadishu's southern district when they were caught in crossfire during fighting between Ethiopian troops and insurgents.

Abdurahim Ise Addo, a spokesman for the rebel Islamic Courts Union, admitted to two deaths in insurgent ranks.

He also claimed his forces killed 10 Somali and Ethiopian soldiers in Thursday night's fighting.

"We killed 10 soldiers from Ethiopia and its Somali stooges. We also lost two fighters," Abdurahim said.

The number of casualties among Ethiopian and Somali government troops could not immediately be confirmed.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the violence that has plagued Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia since Ethiopian forces intervened to help an embattled government oust the Islamic Courts Union in late 2006.

According to several rights organisations and aid groups, at least 6,000 civilians were killed over the past 12 months of fighting.

On June 9, the transitional government and the main Islamist-dominated opposition alliance agreed on a document that stipulates a truce should take effect within a month.

SOURCE: AFP, June 20, 2008


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