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Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fresh violence erupts in capital city

July 11, 2006

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— Deadly gunfire and explosions racked Mogadishu on Monday after weeks of relative calm as the Islamic militiamen controlling Somalia's capital battled one of the last pockets of resistance to their hard-line rule.

At least 25 people were killed. Residents hid in homes and shops, or fled, as the Islamist fighters attacked the forces of secular warlord Abdi Awale Qaybdiid, who has refused to disarm.

More than 40 people have died in the fighting since Sunday.

Relations appeared to be deteriorating between the Islamic fighters and Somalia's virtually powerless U.N.-backed interim government, which said it would not talk with the militia's radical leader when the two sides meet Saturday in Sudan under Arab League auspices to negotiate a full peace accord.

The interim administration watched from its base 90 miles from the capital last month as the Islamists chased out almost all the secular warlords and seized control of Mogadishu and much of surrounding southern Somalia.

The government and Islamic fighters signed a nonaggression agreement at a June 22 meeting in Sudan.

But Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said the government won't take part in peace talks involving the group's radical leader, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys. The United States has alleged that Aweys has ties to al-Qaida, and his fighters have grown increasingly radical since wresting Mogadishu from the secular warlords and establishing strict Islamic courts.

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