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Casualties Mount From Militia Fighting in Mogadishu


Fighting has intensified in Somalia's capital, where Islamic militias are trying to force a local warlord to surrender.

Witnesses in Mogadishu say at least 22 more people were killed Monday, following clashes on Sunday that killed at least 21 people.

Hundreds of residents in the city's K4 and K5 neighborhoods have fled their homes as the rival sides hammer each other with mortars and artillery.

Warlord Abdi Awale Qaybdiid has so far refused to submit to the authority of Somalia's Islamic courts council. Fighters loyal to the courts defeated Qaybdiid and other warlords in a battle for control of Mogadishu earlier this year.

Today, leaders of Somalia's transitional government said they will not meet with the court council's more radical members. The government and court council officials are scheduled to hold talks in Sudan beginning Saturday.

The two sides signed a mutual-recognition agreement last month in Khartoum, but they disagree on the direction of Somalia's future.

The courts have sought to impose a strict interpretation of sharia Islamic law in the areas under their control. The U.N.-backed government opposes this move but has little power outside its base in the city of Baidoa.

The courts also oppose the government's request for foreign peacekeepers to stabilize Somalia. The Horn of Africa country has not had an effective central authority in 15 years.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.