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Fighting Resumes in Somalia


Fighting has resumed between forces loyal to Somalia's weak transitional government and the powerful Islamist movement controlling a large portion of the country.

Witnesses say the clashes are occurring Saturday south of the interim government's base in the Somali town of Baidoa.

The clashes come one day after a spokesman for Somalia's Islamist movement, Ibrahim Hassan Adou, reported heavy fighting between its militias and Ethiopian forces who support the country's embattled government.

Ethiopian media have cited the country's foreign minister as saying no Ethiopian troops were involved in the fighting.

Somalia has been bracing for an outbreak of war for several weeks, amid rising tension between Ethiopia and the Islamists.

Ethiopia has acknowledged sending in several hundred military trainers, and has an undetermined number of soldiers in Somalia to protect the interim government.

Diplomats fear the Somali conflict could grow to draw in Ethiopia's rival, Eritrea, which supports the Islamists.

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council authorized sending peacekeepers to Somalia. The Somali government welcomed the move, while the Islamists vowed to fight any foreign forces that enter Somali territory.

Somalia's transitional government has little authority outside its base in Baidoa. Islamist forces have seized increasing amounts of territory since taking control of the capital, Mogadishu, in June.

The country has been without an effective central authority since 1991 when warlords overthrew a dictator and turned on each other, plunging the country into chaos.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.