MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – At least nine people were killed in clashes between Islamic insurgents and government troops supported by Ethiopian soldiers, residents and witnesses said Saturday.
An Associated Press Writer heard gunfire in the south of the capital of Mogadishu early on Saturday and resident Sarhra Ali said she saw three dead Somali government troops and three wounded civilians. The bodies were later retrieved, she added.
Another resident, Muse Ahmed, said he had seen the bodies of two government soldiers and two civilians in the area, and “several” wounded during a shoot out that lasted several hours.
“The incident occurred when insurgents targeted patrolling government soldiers with an explosion and then exchanged fire with the soldiers,” he said. It was not immediately clear if he was referring to the same casualties as Ali.
In another part of the city, a government soldier and a civilian were killed when fighting broke out in the residential area of Hararyale.
“The fighting started when the insurgents hurled a hand grenade at government soldiers based nearby, and then fighting ensued between the two sides for nearly five hours, killing a civilian and a government soldier. Three other civilians were wounded,” said Abdi Haji, a local resident.
Islamic insurgents have launched almost daily attacks on government troops and their Ethiopian allies since the alliance pushed the Islamists from power in December 2006.
The Islamists had been in control of Mogadishu and much of the south and after their ouster vowed to fight an insurgency with support from Ethiopia’s archenemy, Eritrea.
In a separate incident just on the road between Mogadishu and Afgoye, Ethiopian soldiers shot dead a civilian, a witness said.
“There were conducting an operation on the road, during the operation they shot dead a young man, we do not know why, but maybe they suspected him,” said a bus driver Abdi-shakur, who traveled on the road after the shooting.
Violence continued elsewhere around the impoverished Horn of Africa nation. In Baidoa, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the capital, gunmen shot dead a government security officer working with the national intelligence department late on Friday.
“They hit him twice in the head,” said Aden Bid, the police chief of Baidoa, the current seat of the Somali interim Parliament.
In Hudur in the Bakol region, two people were wounded overnight when gunmen hurled a hand grenade at a cinema where young people were watching an Indian film dubbed into Somali.
“We were in the middle of watching an Indian film when an explosion rocked us. We scattered out of the cinema and I saw two wounded people,” said an eyewitness Farah Malaq. Islamist fighters have often targeted cinemas before.
The last time lawless Somalia had a functioning government was in 1991, when warlords used their clan-based militias to topple dictator Mohamed Siad Barre then fought each other for power.