Gunbattle in Somali capital kills at least 9: reports

18:33, March 03, 2010      

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Gunbattles in the Somali capital of Mogadishu have killed at least nine people, according to agencies' reports on Wednesday.

The exchange of gunfire erupted since last Tuesday between insurgents and forces of the Somali government when the government troops moved into an neighborhood held by the rebel groups in the war-ravaged capital. More than 30 people were wounded in the clashes and taken to hospital, the reports said.

Somalia has been plagued by civil strife since the overthrow of military strongman Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Islamist insurgent groups, which now control almost the entire south and central Somalia except for a small part of the restive capital Mogadishu, have been mounting deadly attacks against forces of the transitional government and the African Union Mission in Somalia, causing heavy casualty in troops and civilians. In February, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that nearly 20,000 people were driven from their homes in Mogadishu by renewed fighting between government forces and opposition groups.

Meanwhile, piracy has become rampant off the coast of Africa, especially in the waters near Somalia. Ransoms started out in the tens of thousands of dollars and have since climbed into millions.

An estimated 25,000 ships annually cruise the Gulf of Aden, off Somali northern coast. Over 10 ships and 200 crew members are still held by Somali pirates.

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