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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 14:07 GMT
Somali warlords battle Islamists
Militiamen in Mogadishu
Mogadishu is controlled by thousands of gunmen
At least seven more people have been killed on the fourth day of the heaviest fighting seen in the Somali capital for several years.

Supporters of some of Mogadishu's militia leaders have clashed with an armed Islamist group which says it is trying to establish law and order.

Their opponents say the Islamic courts are terrorising local people.

More than 22 people have died since fighting began on Saturday - many of them civilians hit by stray bullets.

'Scary'

A witness told AFP news agency on Tuesday that they had seen two people die and 15 wounded in a clash in southern Mogadishu's Daynile district.

"The place is full of blood and it is very scary," he said.

The main airstrip there which is used by aid agencies and businessmen has been shut.

Facts and figures about life in Somalia

Another witness told AP news agency that a woman was killed and two children injured when a mortar exploded near a milk factory.

AP also reports further deaths in the city centre and that two more people have died of their wounds in hospital.

Clashes between armed groups have been common in Somalia since former military leader Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. The country has been without a functioning government since then.

Over the weekend, a group of MPs urged both sides to stop fighting.

The fighting pits a new group, the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, against the Islamic courts' militia.

But AP reports that gunmen from other groups have taken advantage of the fighting to go on a looting spree.

Scholars killed

The fighting has also led to the closure of the Daynile airport, used by many aid workers.

Hundreds of families have fled their homes around the former military academy.

The BBC's Hassan Barise in Mogadishu says at least five warlords-cum-ministers in the transitional government are behind the new alliance, opposed to the Islamic courts.

The courts have set up Mogadishu's only judicial system in parts of the capital but have been accused of links to al-Qaeda.

Their critics accuse the courts of being behind the killing of moderate Muslim scholars.

On 26 February, the country's parliament is due to meet for the first time on home soil since it was formed in Kenya more than a year ago.


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