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Over 70 killed in Somalia clashes
Sun, 27 Feb 2011 07:41:22 GMT
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Al-Shabab fighters in Somalia
Clashes between government soldiers backed by African Union forces and al-Shabab fighters have left more than 70 people dead in different parts of war-torn Somalia.

On Saturday, fierce shelling and gun battles erupted in the regions of Hodan, Wardhigley and Hawl Wadag, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Medics have confirmed the death of 50 people in Somalia. At least 34 others are reported to have been injured.

In Somalia's border with Kenya, 13 people have been killed and 21 others injured during the last 24 hours.

Also, fighting in Balet Hawo Town in the southern region of Gedo continues as fire is exchanged between government troops and al-Shabab fighters.

Witnesses say some ten civilians lost their lives and more than 16 others were injured on Saturday alone.

Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced a new offensive on al-Shabab fighters on Wednesday, adding that 17,000 African Union and Somali soldiers will continue to fight until al-Shabab's hold on Mogadishu is shattered.

Earlier, 25 al-Shabab fighters were reported to have been killed and over 30 others injured in clashes in Galgaduud region of Wardhumadle Town. The town is said to have been forced out of the control of al-Shabab fighters.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since former dictator Siad Barre was overthrown by warlords in 1991.

Somali government controls only a small part of Mogadishu. Lack of coordination among its forces, who are barely trained and seldom get paid, has for long barred the government's promise of a full-scale war against opposition fighters.

Fighting, famine and disease have led to the death of nearly one million people in the African country and crushed all government efforts at restoring security.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia. More than 300,000 of them are sheltered in Mogadishu alone.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, most of the IDPs live in squalid conditions at makeshift sites in southern and central Somalia.

HJL/HRF/MB
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