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Somali Minister Rejects Casualty Report


A top Somali official disputes a report that more than 1,000 people were killed during recent fighting in the capital, Mogadishu.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Interior Minister Mohamud Guled called the report from the city's Hawiye clan untrue and falsified. He said the government does not deny many civilians were killed in the fighting. But he said he rejects efforts to fabricate what does not exist.

A Hawiye assessment committee said this week that 1,086 people were killed in four days of fighting that pitted insurgents and clan militia against Ethiopian and Somali government troops.

Mogadishu was reported calm Friday after two days of renewed clashes that killed at least four people.

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency said today it will distribute aid to 20,000 Somalis who fled west of Mogadishu because of the violence.

The agency estimates that about 128,000 Somalis in all have left Mogadishu for surrounding areas since the start of February.

A spokeswoman, Catherine Weibel, tells VOA the poor security situation makes it impossible for the U.N. to airlift relief supplies directly to the capital. She says the U.N. will instead bring the supplies by truck from Baidoa, 230 kilometers away.