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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Somalia
Overnight violence in Somalia as reconciliation conference enters 5th day

MOGADISHU, Somalia July 23 (Garowe Online) - Suspected insurgents attacked Somali police manning an intersection checkpoint overnight Sunday, engaging government forces in a gun battle that for more than half an hour.

Fighting erupted around 9:30pm last night after insurgents raided the police checkpoint near the Bakara market with machineguns, grenades and rocket launchers, witnesses said.

The dreaded sounds of gunfire and explosions could be heard across Mogadishu, especially in the southern quarters.

A police station in the dangerous Howlwadaag area was also attacked as insurgents aimed grenadesa at the doors and windows.

In a separate attack, insurgent fighters targeted an Ethiopian military base in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Witnesses said the explosion and subsequent gunfire lasted for 20 minutes.

There were Somali and Ethiopian casualties in both attacks but difficult to confirm. The areas where last night's battles took place were sealed off from the public Monday morning, according to residents.

Reconciliation

The government-hosted national reconciliation conference entered its fifth day today since opening last week.

More than 1,000 clan delegates from across Somalia discussed clan wars from the 1990s that led to the devastation of the land and spilled the blood of the innocent.

Some clan representatives exposed alleged crimes committed upon their clans by other armed clans. One delegate accused major clans of forcefully "occupying" his clan's traditional homelands in southern Somalia.

The Ethiopia-backed interim government has billed the NRC as a means to restore lasting peace in the country by signing agreements between feuding armed clans.

But critics argue the clan wars from the 1990s are long over, saying that the only real chance the government has at achieving peace is to sit across from its armed enemies and reach a political settlement.

Somali leaders, including the president and prime minister, have ruled out political settlement with the Islamic Courts, a movement the leaders allege has ties to international terrorism.

Source: Garowe Online

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