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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 11:51 GMT
Fierce fighting in Puntland
Location of Puntland
Fighting has broken out in Garowe, the regional capital of Somalia's breakaway north-eastern region of Puntland.

Forces loyal to ousted leader Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed attacked Garowe on Wednesday morning and are now saying they have taken control of the town.

The situation is reported to be fluid with no word on the whereabouts of the recently elected president of Puntland, Jama Ali Jama.

According to a BBC reporter in the area 12 people were killed and some 100 injured.

In a BBC interview, Mr Ali Jama accused Mr Ahmed's supporters of using excessive force.

Political in-fighting has intensified in the self-declared autonomous region in recent months.

Elders vote

Things came to a head a week ago, when an influential conference voted for a change in leader.

Clan elders elected Jama Ali Jama as the new head of Puntland, but this was immediately rejected by Abdullahi Yusuf, who described the vote as futile and illegal.

He accused supporters of the transitional government in Mogadishu of being involved in the conference but correspondents say it is not clear whether Mr Jama is any more sympathetic to Mogadishu than Mr Abdullahi.

Mr Yusuf told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that two president's could not serve the country.

The north-eastern Somali state was created in 1998, partly to avoid the violence that has plagued Somalia which had been without a central government since 1991.

A new interim government came to power in Somalia last year, but has so far been unable to impose its authority on the country.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Interview with BBC's Hassan Barise in Mogadishu
"People fleeing say it ( the fighting) was the most serious they have ever seen. They have reported serious shelling".
See also:

10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Somalia
05 Feb 01 | Africa
Timeline: Somalia
13 Nov 01 | Africa
Somali PM pledges reconciliation
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