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At Least 3 Killed in Mogadishu Clashes


Islamist militiamen have clashed with their secular rivals in a bloody battle for territorial control in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Witnesses say at least three people were killed and seven others wounded in Thursday's fighting in northern Mogadishu, near the livestock market in an area of the city recently held by Islamist fighters.

Hundreds of people left homes near Thursday's battleground and fled to safer locations. At least 75 people have been killed in the past week - about one-quarter of all casualties suffered since Somalia's latest round of strife began in February.

Islamist fighters have made steady advances against forces controlled by an alliance of secular Somali warlords, known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism.

Islamist fundamentalists claim they can bring order to the war-torn East African nation. Somalia has had no effective central government for 15 years, since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.

Islamist leaders oppose Somalia's weak transitional government because it is not based on Islam. They contend the secular coalition is supported by the United States; the secular alliance, in turn, charges the Islamists have ties to the al-Qaida terror network.

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