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Africa Horn
Gunfire in Mogadishu following truce
Sporadic gunfire rung out in the Somali capital despite a ceasefire agreement signed by warring factions after days of battles that killed at least 33 people and left hundreds wounded.

"The two sides have accepted the ceasefire proposed by traditional elders," Ugas Abd-dahil Ugas Mohamed, a prominent Somali elder, told AFP in the evening.

The redeployment of militia back into their stronghold from the battle zone will start on Thursday morning, he said, after truce talks in the Peace Hotel in southern Mogadishu.

Recent clashes pitted gunmen backed by the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) -- a coalition of warlords -- against Islamic court militia.

At least 33 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, thousands of families were displaced and dozens of houses ruined by bombs, Mohamed said.

Despite the truce, gunshots were still heard along a key road in southern Mogadishu's Daynile district.

The capital remained isolated, without public transport or signs of civilians.

Heavily-armed militia patrolled the area littered with shell casings, fragments of rockets, ammunition boxes and remains of militia food rations.

Witnesses said the skirmishes began on Saturday moments after the warlords launched the ARPCT, an initiative believed to be backed by Washington. It is aimed at curbing the influence of Islamic extremism in Somalia and fighting the possible presence of terrorists there.

Critics have accused the Islamic courts, which have set up a judicial system in Mogadishu, of having links to the Al-Qaeda network.

Western intelligence groups have long warned that the world's failure to support efforts to stabilise lawless Somalia risks allowing the country to become a breeding ground for Islamic extremism. They have expressed concern at the influence of the clerics.

"The mediation effort was accepted by both sides and that will end the fighting in Mogadishu south from now onwards," said another elder, Sultan Ali.

"The violators of the ceasefire will be seen as the enemy of the people of Mogadishu and Somalia," Ali added.

Elders said earlier the fighting was between subclans of the larger Hawiye clan and that it was sparked by an attempt to bring southern Mogadishu under the full control of one of the two groups, which was rejected by the head of Islamic courts.

"It was the satanic alliance (warlords) that ignited the violence, fired the first shot and it is up to the them if the want to stop the violence. The Islamic court has accepted the suggestion of elders," said Sheik Shariff, the head of the influential Mogadishu Joint Islamic Courts.

The truce comes hours after the UN secretary general's special envoy to Somalia, Francois Fall, urged the factions to end hostilities and stop harming civilians trapped in indiscriminate crossfire.

It also comes as factions in the splintered Somalia transitional government prepare to hold their first parliamentary session in the town of Baidoa, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) west of Mogadishu, on February 26.
Posted by:Dan Darling

#10  Are there actually reporter or stringer types in Mogadishu to report these stories?

Like WHY?
Posted by: 3dc   2006-02-23 17:47  

#9  :-) This fighting is all understandable. A warlords' death has left ownership and operation of the Dirt™ concession wide open!
Posted by: Frank G   2006-02-23 17:26  

#8  ROFL!!!

Damn, lol. Left myself wiiiiiide open.
Posted by: .com   2006-02-23 17:00  

#7  Puagmire!
Posted by: Frank G   2006-02-23 16:39  

#6  Whew! No mention of the P word, yet.
Posted by: .com   2006-02-23 15:58  

#5  Since we did not finish the job in Somalia in the 1990s, we will eventually have to go back in there and clean up the mess. Just like with Iran, the infection can only be allowed to fester so long before it has to be lanced or it will kill the body.
Posted by: Shieldwolf   2006-02-23 15:54  

#4  Gunfire...hell, that IS a Somali truce.

Posted by: Mike Kozlowski   2006-02-23 12:20  

#3  Eating or better yet, chewing khat, often lead to gunplay.
Posted by: Happy 88mm   2006-02-23 10:05  

#2  This is the traditional Somali way of celebrating truces...
Posted by: tu3031   2006-02-23 09:49  

#1  Gunfire follows truce. Night follows day.
Posted by: Bobby   2006-02-23 07:36