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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Somalis move bodies after clashes
Somalis search the debris of their homes in the capital, Mogadishu
Mogadishu has been devastated by the conflict
Residents of the Somali capital have started to clear the bodies of those killed in nine days of fierce battles from the streets of Mogadishu.

Fighting has stopped for the moment, after Ethiopian forces drove insurgents from northern suburbs on Thursday.

Many houses and businesses were looted during the fighting, including the Coca-Cola factory opened in 2004.

More people have been displaced in Somalia in the past two months than any other country, the United Nations says.

We had supplies of sugar that were supposed to last the whole year - they were also looted
Bashir Mohamed Araye
Coca-Cola manager

AFP news agency is reporting that Ethiopians and government troops are moving house-to-house in northern districts arresting suspected insurgents.

The BBC's Farhia Ali says people were venturing down to the central Bakara market area to check on their businesses and to see if the buildings were still standing.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi said his forces were in control of the capital and the worst of the fighting was now over.

Fleeing

"We have collected around seven bodies, including one woman," Haji Mukhta Hassan, an elder, told the AFP.

"They were rotten and we have taken them to a mosque to prepare them for burial."

UNHCR map shows where thousands have fled to from Somalia's capital Mogadishu

Coca-Cola manager Bashir Mohamed Araye told Reuters news agency that armed men in 12 trucks had looted his factory.

"Our offices were broken into and all computers looted. We had supplies of sugar that were supposed to last the whole year - they were also looted," he said.

There are reports that men are fleeing northern districts in case they are arrested as insurgents.

"They are moving from house to house, arresting people," Ibrahim Sheikh Mao, a resident of the Suuqahoola district told AFP.

He said the Ethiopians were studying people's elbows and hands for bruises or marks to indicate that they had been firing weapons.

'Charging for shade'

Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for UN relief co-ordinator John Holmes, said at least 350,000 people had fled fighting in Mogadishu since February.

There is also concern for those trapped in the city, where more than 600 have died from acute diarrhoea and cholera.

Ms Bunker said displacements in Somali had topped those in Iraq, Darfur and Sri Lanka.

"If you look at the situation from February until now, in that one timeframe, more people have been displaced inside Somalia than any place else in the world," she told the BBC.

Somali insurgents

"We are very concerned about the people who have had to flee their homes because of the fighting, but we are also very concerned about those who are still trapped inside the city of Mogadishu."

Earlier Mr Holmes said aid was reaching just 60,000 people. Some 300 people have been killed in the recent clashes, after 1,000 deaths last month, local human rights group say.

The UN refugee agency reports that people are continuing to flee Mogadishu, for the nearby town of Afgooye.

It says that armed robbers are roaming the town, where shop-owners are charging extortionate prices.

The UNHCR has also been told that land-owners are charging refugees to sit under the shade of their trees on the road from Mogadishu.

The Union of Islamic Courts were toppled last December by Ethiopia-backed government forces.

The Islamist fighters have been joined by gunmen from the Hawiye clan, which does not back the government.

Somalia has not had a functional government since 1991.

Peace talks led to the formation of a transitional government in 2004, but it has so far failed to take full control of the country.

Ethiopian troops announced they had begun to withdraw, to be replaced by an African Union peacekeeping force, but only 1,200 of the 8,000 troops the AU says it needs have been deployed.


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Heavy fighting on the streets of Mogadishu



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