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Somali Government Reaches Disarmament Accord with Warlords


In Somalia, the interim government says it has reached agreement with clan warlords to disarm their militias and join a new national army. But even as the negotiations were under way in the presidential residence, at least five people were killed and several others wounded during a clash near the residence between presidential security guards and the militia of a powerful warlord. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

A radio presenter with an FM station in Somalia, Mohamed Kawashito, tells VOA what he heard about the situation outside the home of President Abdullahi Yusuf.

"The warlords in Mogadishu, they [came] from Baidoa, and they came to Mogadishu yesterday. Then the president of Somalia, he invited [them] to come with him to Villa Somalia. When they reached there, we heard the fighting started," he said.

The shootout occurred as the warlords were meeting with the president to discuss the issue of disarmament and peace. After the meeting, a government spokesman said the warlords agreed to surrender their weapons and merge their militias into a new national army.

Ethiopian and U.S. forces have carried out air attacks in southern Somalia against suspected Islamist militants who retreated there, as well as suspected al-Qaida terrorists.

The British aid group Oxfam, Friday reported the recent air raids in southern Somalia have killed some 70 people in Afmadow district, nomads gathered around fires at night.

On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger wrote in the Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation that the U.S. launched only one strike against al-Qaida, and that no civilians were injured in that action.

Ranneberger called for an African stabilization force to be brought into Somalia. In his words, "quick deployment of African stabilization forces will enable the rapid withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, without creating a security vacuum."

According to Oxfam, the recent violence has displaced an estimated 70,000 Somalis since December.

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