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Heavy Fighting Breaks Out In Mogadishu
MOGADISHU, August 10, 2007 – At least four Somalis were killed Friday as heavy fighting broke out in the capital Mogadishu between insurgents and the Ethiopian-backed government forces, police and witnesses said.
An AFP reporter in Mogadishu described the clashes as among the most intense since April, when the interim government wrested final control of the city from an Islamist militia that briefly held large parts of the country.
The latest bout of fighting erupted in southern Mogadishu at around midnight (2100 GMT) and lasted for an hour and a half, witnesses said, adding that no further clashes were reported on Friday morning.
The worst fighting took place around the Holwadag police station, which insurgents attacked with machine guns and rocket launchers.
"We suffered no casualties but a civilian in a nearby house was killed," policeman Mohammed Farah told AFP.
Witnesses said insurgents also launched a mortar and rocket attack against a Somali security position near a milk factory, killing two soldiers.
An officer who wished to remain anonymous said the burials were already under way and added that a number of other government forces were wounded in the incident.
Fighting was also reported near an Ethiopian army post in the Ali Kamin district, where the dead body of a civilian was later found.
"I saw the body of a man who was shot in the head... but nobody knows who killed him," local resident Siyad Adan Fiyore told AFP.
A grenade also struck a civilian home in the southern neighborhood of Shirkole, wounding three brothers, according to the victims' sister.
Since being defeated by the Ethiopian army and their Somali allies, insurgents have carried out almost daily hit-and-run attacks but sustained direct clashes have been rare.
The latest violence brings to at least 11 the number of people killed in Mogadishu violence over the past 48 hours.
Following the latest flare-up, one of Mogadishu's main radio stations, Shabelle, was raided by policemen who ordered it off air and briefly detained seven staff members.
The radio's assistant director Jaafar Kukay told AFP that Shabelle had resumed its programmes but that one journalist was still being questioned by police.
"They are arguing that Radio Shabelle aired an inaccurate story about the violence that took place in Mogadishu last night," he said.
It was the third time since January that a Mogadishu radio station was silenced by the authorities.
Somalia , which is home to about 10 million people, has been plagued by instability that has defied more than a dozen peace initiatives since the 1991 overthrow of former dictator Siyad Barre.
More than 1,000 clan representatives from all over the fractious Horn of Africa country have been gathered in the restive capital since July 15 for a reconciliation conference sponsored by the interim government.
The meeting is being boycotted by the government's main Islamist foes, who are planning their own meeting in the Eritrean capital Asmara next month.
Officials announced that the meeting was adjourned until Wednesday for "technical reasons".