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New Round of Violence in Somali Capital


A mortar attack and shootings are the latest violence to hit the Somali capital, which is struggling to regain stability after Ethiopian-backed government forces ousted Islamists who controlled the capital for much of last year. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Witnesses in Mogadishu reported at least two people were shot dead during the night, and the capital remained tense Friday.

A reporter with the French news agency, Ali Musa, tells VOA mortars were fired overnight in Mogadishu.

"Three to four rounds of mortar have been landing at Madina vicinity, which is a poor neighborhood," he said. "The mortars were not heavy ones, according to experts. One hit a mosque and the other one hit an abandoned school, and the third one was just coming into the neighborhood. It has wounded a small girl, who is about 15 years old."

The Somali capital has been plagued by sporadic violence since government forces backed by Ethiopian troops drove out radical Islamic militias last month.

Musa says the Islamic Courts Union's strict rules helped quell violence in the city, where the internationally backed government is now struggling to gain control.

"There is a declining security situation in Mogadishu," he added. "The Islamic Courts had imposed some strict laws and institutions in the Somali capital, and has been making the streets safer than before."

Ethiopian forces have been supporting Somali government troops in first chasing away fighters of the Islamic Courts Union, and then attempting to bring stability to the capital.

Observers fear that the retreat of the Islamists from the capital and other key posts throughout the south, and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops will create a security vacuum and a possible return to the warlordism that plagued the country since civil war broke out in 1991.

The Somali government, the African Union and the United States are among those pushing for an African peacekeeping force to be sent into Somalia, with the African Union approving a plan to send 8,000 troops into the volatile country.

Uganda and Malawi have officially offered to supply troops, with South Africa, Libya, Tanzania, Angola, and Congo among those countries said to be considering sending personnel.

Somalia's transitional government was formed in Kenya more than two years ago following a peace process.

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