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65 die in Somalia fighting, car bombs

world Updated: Apr 25, 2007 05:37 IST

AFP
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At least 65 people have been killed on the seventh day of fierce clashes between Ethiopian troops and Islamist guerrillas around the Somali capital, including two car bombings.

Human rights workers monitoring the death toll said yesterday at least 321 people, mostly civilians and insurgents, had been killed in the clashes as Ethiopian forces battle Islamist gunmen in support of the transitional goverment.

Witnesses said a suicide bomber blew up a truck in an Ethiopian camp in Afgoye, about 30 kilometres southwest of the capital, wounding at least two Somali soldiers.

A car also exploded outside a hotel housing government officials in southern Mogadishu, killing seven civilians and wounding several others, residents said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the car bombings but Somali authorities have in the past blamed the Islamists for suicide attacks.

Ethiopian tanks pounded positions in northern and southern Mogadishu in a bid to weaken the insurgents, who are allegedly linked to the Al-Qaeda terror network of Osama bin Laden.

"The Ethiopians have used massive power that should never be allowed in residential areas. Their tanks have rained shells indiscriminately on houses," said Sudan Ali Ahmed, chairman of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation which monitors casualties.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his troops were battling the "Taliban of Somalia" and claimed the campaign was a success despite the mounting loss of civilian life.