Rival Somali militias clash over wealth

Mogadishu- Somali (PANA) -- Heavy fighting has erupted between militias loyal to runaway warlord Mohamed Hirsi, alias General Morgan, and supporters of the rival Juba Valley Alliance (JVA) in Southern Somalia.
Several civilians were wounded in the fighting that erupted in parts of the Lower Juba region, about 500km southern Mogadishu.
Supporters of Morgan clashed with the JVA, which is in control of the southern port town of Kismayo, militia commanders said.
Casualty figures could not be immediately established but some Somali politicians said the fighting was not as severe as the militia commanders had indicated.
"There were confrontations but not what we can qualify as fighting by a militia group loyal to Morgan who have returned home in the Lower Juba area to stake claim to their land and property grabbed by the Juba Valley Alliance," said Awad Ashara, a Somali MP.
"We will get more details about the fighting later but we know that it was just a small confrontation between the supporters of the displaced leader, Barre Shire Hirele, who is returning home after two years," Ashara told PANA by phone from Nairobi.
After defeating General Morgan in 1999, the Juba Valley Alliance took over the running of the lucrative port town, the entry point for most goods in Somalia, which is suspected of fuelling the vibrant arms trade in violation of a UN arms ban.
The Juba Alliance is understood to be amassing troops in readiness for any attempts by Morgan to re-gain control of the port.
General Morgan, who left the Somali National Reconciliation conference talks, currently in its final stages in the outskirts of Nairobi, was warned last week by IGAD that he might face some punitive measures.
Morgan then promised the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), mediating the talks, to return and hold his forces unless in self-defence.

16 september 2004 12:25:00




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