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At Least 80 Dead in Somalia Violence


Officials in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, say three days of fighting in the lawless city have killed at least 80 people, mainly civilians, with more than 200 injured.

Residents say the clashes subsided Wednesday after one of the warring factions, the Mogadishu Islamic Courts, declared a unilateral ceasefire late Tuesday. The opposing group, a secular alliance of warlords, has not said if it will match the truce.

The two sides have been battling for control of Mogadishu since Sunday, with most of the fighting centering on the northern neighborhood of Sii-Sii.

The United Nations special representative for Somalia, Francois Fall, appealed today for the rival militias to end the hostilities, saying they had created fear and chaos for civilians caught in the crossfire. The U.N. official said it was "unacceptable" for the fighters to use heavy machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and artillery in urban areas.

The chairman of the Mogadishu Islamic Courts, Shiekh Sharif Ahmed, says Islamic fighters decided to call a truce Tuesday in response to pleas from the general public and traditional elders and activists.

But a spokesman for the alliance of warlords, Hussein Gutaale, says the Islamists only want to stop fighting because they have run out of ammunition.

The secular alliance accuses the Islamic militias of having ties to al-Qaida. Islamic fighters say the alliance is a pawn of the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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