Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Saturday, 8 August 2009 15:29 UK

Clashes rock Somali pirate port

A Somali pirate on board a French yacht on 10 April 2009
Pirates say they fear the clan conflict may affect their activities at sea

Overnight gun-battles between rival clans in a pirate stronghold on the coast of Somalia have left at least 17 dead and 30 injured, reports say.

Local residents in Haradheere fled as fighting, reportedly over land and the alleged rape of a woman, intensified.

Pirates who operate in the area, a port off the shipping lanes linking Europe to Asia, said they were worried the conflict could affect their activities.

Somalia, torn by civil war since 1991, lacks an effective central government.

"The two clans are fighting over land and a girl who was raped in the forest," a local man, Farah Aden, told Reuters news agency.

"Unfortunately, the battles spread into town. Fighting is going on fiercely."

A pirate, who gave his name as Mohammed, told Reuters that those involved in piracy around the port were concerned that their activities would be damaged.

"We are all members of these two clans, and we are worried that this fight might end up being taken out on to the ocean," he said.

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