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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK


World: Africa

Mogadishu market clash

Fighting in Mogadishu over territory and taxes

By East Africa Correspondent Cathy Jenkins

A second day of fighting between rival militias in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has left at least 17 people dead.

The latest firefight on the streets of south Mogadishu appears to have broken out when gunmen loyal to one warlord clashed with militiamen belonging to some of South Mogadishu's Islamic courts.

The shoot-out flared around a busy road junction, the centre of a small livestock market and a bustling part of the city.

Many of these clashes which plague the Somali capital occur because of clan rivalries. Some of the battles are fought to win control over economically important districts of the city.

The clash over the road junction which caused at least 10 deaths was, according to one observer, very probably a battle to control the area's trade.

South Mogadishu has seen a number of similar but unrelated firefights in recent weeks.

In March hundreds of people were reported to have fled their homes after fighting erupted around the important Bakara market.

Clan elders seek ceasefire

It broke out apparently after one faction leader demanded taxes from traders in return for clearing out bandits.

In many cases when fighting does break out clan elders, who play a crucial role in Somalia, are called to mediate between the warring factions.

On Thursday morning in Mogadishu clan elders were reported to be holding meetings with the various parties to try to get a ceasefire.

Somali has been without a central government since 1991 and the country is divided into feifdoms controlled by different warlords and faction leaders.

There were hopes that Mogadishu might see an increase in stability when plans were announced for a joint administration.

But the warlords who control the different parts of the capital have failed to turn their proposals into reality.



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