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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Bomb kills Somali cleaning women
Women cry after seeing the dead bodies
Deadly attacks occur almost daily in Mogadishu
A huge roadside bomb has gone off in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing at least five people.

The bomb was hidden under a pile of rubbish in the main Bakara market and four of those killed were women cleaning the streets, witnesses say.

The bomb follows a fierce gun battle between heavily armed insurgents and police in the north-east of the city.

A BBC correspondent says residents feel that last week's dusk-to-dawn curfew has failed to curb the violence.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says that hundreds of police officers have sealed off the area after the market bomb.

"It was an ugly scene with blood everywhere. I could not count the dead, I just glanced at once and ran away for my life," businesswoman Hawa Jama told Reuters news agency.

Food aid deaths

The gun battle was sparked by an ambush on a police patrol in north-eastern Mogadishu - seen as an insurgent stronghold.

Our reporter says that most of the area's residents have fled.

This is the first time there have been face-to-face clashes since the curfew was imposed last week.

People in Mogadishu's Bakara market
Bakara market is normally the busiest in the capital
There are no details yet of any casualties from the fighting, in which insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

The insurgents are believed to be Islamist fighters and gunmen from the Hawiye clan - the largest in Mogadishu.

On Monday, at least three people were killed after security forces opened fire at a crowd demanding food aid in Mogadishu.

Hundreds of people tried to storm a police station where food was being handed out, they say.

"Police opened fire and killed five people," said Abdiqadir Mohamed Ilbir, as he wept for his brother, who was among the dead.

Meanwhile, the 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia have reportedly been paid.

They had been unhappy at a delay in their payments since they were deployed as the first contingent of a proposed 8,000-strong African Union force.

Somalia has been beset by violence since it last had a government in 1991.

Ethiopian and government troops ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the Islamist group that controlled most of Somalia for six months last year, in December.

The government is planning a national reconciliation conference next month but Islamist leaders and a growing number of other Somali groups say they will not take part in any peace negotiations until the Ethiopians leave their country.


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