More overnight fighting was reported in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, Thursday. At least 20 more people were reported killed, bringing the death toll in five days of fighting to about 120.
The clashes pit gunmen belonging to two rival militias -- the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism, and the Islamic Court Union. Islamic militias and an alliance of warlords have been fighting for control of parts of Mogadishu, mainly in the northern Sii-Sii neighborhood, since Sunday. Witnesses say most of the casualties have been civilians caught in the crossfire.
Meanwhile, the United Nations says it is investigating claims that an unnamed country is funneling weapons into Somalia in violation of an international embargo. Somalia has suffered 15 years of sporadic violence since the ouster of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Mohammed Dare is the general editor of VOA affiliate Hornafrik Radio In Mogadishu. He described the stuation in the Somali capital to English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje. “People in Mogadishu are fed up with the fighting going on here day and night. People can’t go out, no cars, no movement, check points everywhere, and militias firing, a really bad situation in Mogadishu.” He says the casualties from the current fighting continue to rise.
Dare says the two militia groups are battling to control the capital, disregarding the human suffering the violence is causing. He says whatever public support the militia groups enjoyed is being lost fast. “Originally, the Islamic Courts group was supported for securing the people and maintaining law and order, as Somalia has been without government for at least fourteen years. But because of the fighting underway now, the group is losing the support of the people.”
The Somali journalist says there is only one way to restore peace in Mogadishu. “The only hope of the people is for the international community to step in and handle the matter. As in Darfur, America is the only country that can handle this problem, along with the international community.”