38 killed in renewed Mogadishu fighting
The latest fighting comes despite a May 14 ceasefire between Islamic militias and a rival alliance of secular warlords.india Updated: May 25, 2006 16:48 IST
At least 38 people were killed on Thursday in renewed fighting in the Somali capital that sent thousands of frightened civilians running from their homes, medical officials and a militia commander said.
According to reports collected from the Somali capital's main hospitals, at least 30 people were killed when rival militias intensified fighting in Mogadishu on Thursday after a day's lull.
Ali Mohamed Siyad, a militia leader of an Islamic militia said his group had lost eight combatants.
In addition, Medina Hospital received 60 injured people and Keysaney Hospital 30.
The latest fighting comes despite a May 14 ceasefire between Islamic militias and a rival alliance of secular warlords.
Witnesses say it has spread from northern Mogadishu, which had been the scene of fierce battles in recent weeks, to the southern and eastern parts of the capital.
Civilians caught in the crossfire or struck by stray missiles had been the main victims of previous fighting in northern Mogadishu.
On Thursday, thousands of civilians fled their homes on foot, some with children on their backs.
Among those fleeing are residents who had left their homes in northern Mogadishu to seek refuge in other parts of the city.
No public transport vehicles were visible and schools remained closed for the second day.
National Security Minister Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, a key Mogadishu warlord, was quoted on Wednesday by the Voice of America saying that he had resigned from the government following an ultimatum from Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi.
Gedi last week had asked Qanyare and three other warlord-Cabinet ministers to resign for being members of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism that is fighting the Islamic militias because they were undermining the transitional government.
Qanyare told the agency later on Thursday that he had not resigned and said that his comments had been misinterpreted.
Hussain Gutaleh, an aide to Qanyare, said that what the alliance is doing, "is good for the government ... we are paving the way for the smooth arrival of the government in Mogadishu."
The transitional government is presently based in the southern town of Baidoa, arguing that Mogadishu is too insecure for it to function there.
On Wednesday, the rival militiamen renewed fighting in northern Mogadishu for a few hours during which at least six people were killed and another six seriously injured, witnesses and medical workers said.
More than 140 people -- most noncombatants caught in the crossfire -- were killed in eight days of fighting in Mogadishu earlier this month between Islamic militias and a rival alliance of secular warlords.
Witnesses said that Islamic militiamen had taken over a key hotel in the capital Thursday.
The Sahafi Hotel is owned by a member of the rival Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-terrorism.
The Islamic militiamen drove the warlords away from an area of southern Mogadishu, where Sahafi is located, area resident Saidia Mohamed said.
"The battle is continuing, I'm talking to you from under my bed and you can hear sounds of heavy gunfire and mortars," a panic stricken Mohamed said, speaking on her mobile phone.
Somalia has been embroiled in some of the worst fighting in more than a decade in recent weeks.
The fundamentalists portray themselves as capable of bringing order to the country, which has been without a real government since largely clan-based warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.