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70 Killed in Clashes in Somalia's Capital

Hospital officials in Somalia's capital say some 70 people have been killed in three days of ongoing fighting between local warlords and an Islamist militia.

A peace activist based in Mogadishu, Abdullahi Shirwa, tells VOA that the violence has moved from the outskirts of the city into the city itself. He says mortar shells and artillery fire have destroyed homes and forced people to flee Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, the top United Nations envoy for Somalia is urging leaders of rival factions in Mogadishu to end hostilities and allow families to return to their homes.

This recent violence started Wednesday, pitting fighters who are loyal to Islamic clerics against gunmen allied with local warlords. The groups first clashed last month, in four days of fighting that killed at least 20 people.

Such factional violence is common in Somalia, which has been without a central government for the last 15 years.