SOME of Somalia's worst clan fighting in months kills 22 in Mogadishu; market, homes hit

Saturday, July 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Heavily armed groups from rival clans clashed in some of the worst violence in Somalia's capital in months Saturday, killing 22 people and seriously wounding 25, health workers and witnesses said.

Using assault rifles, anti-aircraft guns and anti-tank weapons, fighters loyal to faction leader Muse Sudi Yalahow battled gunmen from a clan that supports the transitional government formed last year after a decade of chaos and violence.

The fighting was focused on a market in northern Mogadishu's Sana neighborhood, which suffered serious damage. Residents of Sana have expressed support for the new government.

Hussein Mohamud Ahmed, a merchant, said fuel supplies at the market caught fire when a rocket-propelled grenade hit a fuel tank. He said he saw five dead bodies and four wounded fighters.

Stray anti-tank rounds also fell outside Sana, hitting a Koranic school, homes, restaurants and another market 2 1/2 miles away. A small boy and his sister were seriously wounded when an anti-tank round hit the school.

It was not immediately clear what set off the violence, but Yalahow's men were reportedly angered because residents of Sana appeared to be supporting the new government, which Yalahow opposes.

In a bid to maintain order, President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan's fledgling government established a 2,000-member police force in late June _ the first since President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

But pockets of Mogadishu remain under the control of faction leaders opposed to the government, and thousands of gunmen still roam the streets of the capital.

On Friday, a police officer and at least 14 other people were killed and more than 40 wounded in fighting at Mogadishu's second-largest market between rival subgroups of a clan called Abgal.

Barre's ouster set off a decade of factional fighting as opposition leaders turned on each other and reduced the nation of 7 million into battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed clan-based militias.

The Horn of Africa country had no central government until last August, when Abdiqasim and 245 legislators were elected at a peace conference in neighboring Djibouti.