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Gunbattle on Edge of Mogadishu Kills Five


A gunbattle on the outskirts of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has killed at least five people.

Witnesses say gunmen loyal to the city's Islamic courts attacked and captured a checkpoint held by a local warlord, Abdi Kaibdid. Kaibdid says three of the dead were civilians.

The clashes were the first in the Somali capital since Islamic fighters took control of the city from warlords earlier this month.

On Monday, the United States said it will not have dealings with the new leader of the Islamic courts, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. Aweys is on U.S. and United Nations lists of terrorist suspects.

Aweys, a former army colonel, denies he is a terrorist.

A spokesman says Washington has not ruled out contact with the Islamic courts as a whole, but is waiting to see what course the group's leadership will take.

McCormack says the U.S. may be willing to work with the Islamic courts if the group helps the international community meet its goals in Somalia. He says those goals include fighting terrorism, distributing humanitarian aid, and supporting Somalia's U.N.-backed transitional government.

Aweys was named leader of Somalia's newly organized Council of Islamic Courts on Saturday. Fighters loyal to the courts recently seized control of Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia.

The group's predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union, signed a ceasefire and mutual recognition agreement with Somalia's transitional government last week.

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

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