Somalia: Mogadishu fighting worsens, 25 killed
May 10, 2009 - 2:08:10 PM
MOGADISHU, Somalia May 10 (Garowe Online) -
Fighting among Islamist militias reignited in the Somali capital Mogadishu Saturday night and continued into Sunday, with at least 25 people killed in battles described as the worst since Ethiopian troops withdrew in January, Radio Garowe reports.
More than 57 others were wounded as the fighting raged in Yaaqshiid and Wardhigley districts, witnesses said.
Omar Ismail, a Mogadishu resident who was fleeing on Sunday, told Puntland-based Radio Garowe that the fighting is "between Hizbul Islam with support from Al Shabaab and the [Islamic] Courts militia who support the government."
Other witnesses said shells hit civilian homes, killing and wounding many people.
|Dr. Omar Iman, Hizbul Islam chairman|
The ICU militia attacked and took control of Yaaqshiid police station from Hizbul Islam fighters last night, sparking hours of battles.
In Mogadishu's Wardhigley district, rebels targeted the Villa Somalia presidential compound with mortars but there were no reports of damage or injury.
Sheikh Omar Iman, the chairman of Hizbul Islam faction, told reporters that ICU militias attacked two police stations under the control of Hizbul Islam.
"Islamic Courts fighters took control of our posts in Yaaqshiid and Wardhigley [districts]…this is the reason we joined the fight," said Sheikh Iman, a well-educated scholar who had previously condemned sporadic fighting among Islamists in Mogadishu.
Sources at Medina, Daynile and Keysaney hospitals said tens of wounded victims were being rushed in to the emergency ward for treatment.
Mogadishu residents described the fighting as the "worst" since Ethiopian troops ended a two-year military intervention in January, when former Islamic Courts leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed became the U.N.-backed President of Somalia.
Islamist hardliners have rejected Sheikh Sharif's interim government, which voted to introduce Islamic law as national legislation. The rebels have accused Sheikh Sharif of becoming a puppet of the West.
Somalia's last effective national government collapsed in 1991, when warlords plunged the Horn of Africa country into enduring chaos.
The Islamist movement arose in 2006, with current President Sheikh Sharif and opposition leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys at the helm.
Ethiopian troops intervened later that year to overthrow the Islamists, who dispersed and reemerged with an Iraq-style insurgency that killed upwards of 16,000 people in two years.
Source: Garowe Online