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7 Dead as Fighting Flares in Somalia's Contested Mudug Region

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At least seven people have been killed and 30 others injured in renewed fighting in central Somalia.

The fighting in Galkayo, in the central Somali region of Mudug, has pitted forces loyal to the Puntland regional administration against those supporting that of Galmudug.

Witnesses said the fighting started with heavy gunfire and continued for hours as both sides used antiaircraft guns and mortars. A VOA reporter in the town said the violence forced many civilians to flee from their homes.

The clashes followed an outbreak of fighting November 22 that left at least 10 people dead and hundreds displaced.

Galkayo is the provincial capital of the divided Mudug region. The northern part is controlled by Puntland regional state, while the south is held by Galmudug regional state. Disputed land in the city has created tensions over control of the town.

Saturday’s fighting came a day after Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke met with the leaders of Galmudug and Puntland to try to broker a truce and a deal to prevent the fighting from recurring.

Speaking in Mogadishu on Saturday, Sharmarke said the leaders of both sides had agreed to solve their differences through peaceful means and to end the fighting. But Saturday's violence cast doubt on the prime minister's efforts.

Representatives of the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the European Union and the United States have called on both sides to de-escalate tension in Galkayo and resolve their differences peacefully.