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Saturday, 12 May, 2001, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Mogadishu death toll rises
Hussein Aidid
Hussein Aidid: Opposed to the transitional government

More than 40 people are reported to have died and 100 wounded in heavy fighting that began on Friday in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

The fighting, between forces loyal to the transitional government and fighters loyal to warlord Hussein Mohamed Aidid, died down after 18 hours.

Subsequent negotiations are reported to have led to Mr Aidid withdrawing from Mogadishu's port area. He says the death toll was nearer 80.

The clashes are the first major confrontation between the militia factions which control much of the capital and the transitional government set up by a number of Somali groups last year in an attempt to reunify the country.

Rival government

Both sides used machine guns and mortars in the port area.

It is not clear what sparked the fighting.

Mr Aidid says his forces were ambushed by government troops.

But the government claims it was not directly involved in the fight; it says militia belonging to private businessmen were the ones who confronted Aidid.

However, the BBC's Ishbel Matheson says these militia are known to support the transitional government.

Mr Aidid is a key member of a council, set up by several powerful warlords that, backed by Ethiopia are seeking to replace the government.

They say they will form their own government within six months, to rival the country's transitional administration.

The Somali transitional government was formed after consultations with representatives of Somali society.

But our correspondent says with many powerful warlords are opposed to it, the government so far has not managed to extend its control outside Mogadishu.

The latest fighting began on the same day that another warlord in Mogadishu received a convoy of heavy-duty lorries transporting weapons and ammunition.

The convoy, consisting of 12 big trucks, was escorted by about 10 battle wagons and more than 100 heavily-armed militiamen.

It arrived at the headquarters of warlord Muse Sudi Yalahow who also strongly opposes the new transitional government.

The government accuses Ethiopia of supplying the weapons in an attempt to destabilise Somalia and has called on the international community to condemn Addis Ababa.

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See also:

02 Mar 01 | Africa
Somali warlords join forces
31 Jan 01 | Africa
Somalia's thoughtful 'warlord'
29 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia's new civilian leader
05 Feb 01 | Africa
Timeline: Somalia
02 May 01 | Africa
Somalia: A chequered year
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