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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Factional fighting erupts in Somalia
Somali militia men
Rival warlords have divided up Somalia
At least 12 people have been killed, and more than 35 injured, in fighting between rival warlords in Medina, a residential area of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.


I am responding to the outcry of my people who asked for help

Warlord Musa Sudi Yallahow

Witnesses say there was indiscriminate shelling of houses - and many of those who died were civilians.

The battle involved the forces of Musa Sudi Yallahow, and those of his former ally, Omar Finish.

Somalia has been gripped by factional fighting and has had no effective administration since 1991.

A transitional government was put in place in 2000, but it has had little impact outside the capital, Mogadishu.

Hospital

The BBC's Hassan Barise in Mogadishu says the city is now calm again - but the situation remains very tense.

It is not clear what sparked the clashes, but our correspondent says tension is high ahead of forthcoming peace talks between rival factions due to take place in Kenya.

President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
President Salat has a shaky hold on power

Dr. Abdi Ibrahim Ahmed, a physician at Medina Hospital, told our correspondent that five of those killed and 27 of those wounded had been brought to the hospital.

He said among the wounded were pregnant women, children and elderly people, many of whom were in critical condition.

One of Finish's allies claimed Yallahow's supporters attacked first.

"The fighting was started early this morning by Yallahow," Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan told AFP news agency.

"He is targeting residential areas to displace and kill our supporters."

Ahamed Dae, another Finish's top lieutenant, told our correspondent that the attack was repulsed and fighting spread throughout the area.

But Mr Yallahow denied that any fighting was going.

"I am responding to the outcry of my people who asked for help after the level of banditry became unbearable in parts of Mogadishu," he said.

Tuesday's fighting is the third time forces loyal to Yallahow and Mohamud have clashed since the two men split in December.

Embargo

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is tightening the arms embargo on Somalia in place for the last decade.

The Council voted unanimously to send a group of experts there to study the best way to enforce the restrictions. Britain, the current Council president, said the resolution focused on the need to hinder the arms flowing into Somalia.

A UN report earlier this month said that at some point arms had been sent by countries including not only most of Somalia's regional neighbours but also Dubai, Iran, Latvia, Libya, Poland, and the United States.

Correspondents say weapons are openly sold in markets and that most Somalis own a firearm.


Politics

Terrorist haven?

RESOURCES
See also:

17 Jun 02 | Africa
29 May 02 | Africa
25 May 02 | Africa
24 May 02 | Africa
24 Jan 02 | Africa
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