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Overnight Fighting Is Reported in Somalia's Capital

Fresh overnight fighting has been reported in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. The latest clashes pit gunmen belonging to two rival militias, the Islamic Court Union and the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. Eighteen people have reportedly been killed and more than 20 wounded. The alliance accuses the Islamic Court Union of sheltering foreign Al-Qaida leaders, while the Islamic Court Union accuses the Alliance of being pawns of the United States.

Ali Sharmarke is the managing director of HornAfrik Media, the media house that runs VOA affiliate HornAfrik Radio in Mogadishu. He told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje, “The situation in Mogadishu this afternoon is quiet, but no one knows whether [another round of] fighting will start tomorrow morning or not.” He says, “The latest clashes are part of the campaign by the two militia groups to capture new territory and increase their influence.”

The HornAfrik official expects more such clashes in the coming weeks and months. He says despite the wishes of the militia groups, establishing control over Mogadishu will be difficult. “All the individual militia groups can achieve is take over parts of the city, increase the casualty rates and further [damage] the city. I don’t see anyone capturing or controlling the city in the near future.”