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|Renewed Fighting in Mogadishu, At Least Seven Killed|
Nairobi, June 11, 2003 (IRIN) - Fighting broke out again on Tuesday in the Medina district of Mogadishu, according to local sources in the Somali capital.
The fighting was between militias loyal to faction leader Muse Sudi Yalahow, and those led by his former right-hand man, Umar Mahmud Muhammad Finish. At least seven people were killed and scores wounded in the latest violation of an October 2002 ceasefire agreement, Muhammad Yusuf, a reporter with Shabelle Radio, told IRIN from Mogadishu. Among those killed was Muhammad Sudi Yalahow, Muse Sudi's younger brother, he said.
The journalist said the latest round of fighting was a continuation of battles which erupted in late February and continued into March. "The two sides have been confronting each other for the last three to four months, and it was no surprise that they started again."
According to Muhammad, there had been no fighting on Wednesday, but it was believed the two sides were "just buying time to reorganise and reinforce their forces". He explained that there had been no new attempts at mediation, because the elders had been "unable to bring the two together for over a year".
This is the latest in a series of violations of a ceasefire agreement signed on 27 October 2002 by the Somali parties attending peace talks mediated by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Under the terms of the accord, the groups agreed to suspend all hostilities for the duration of the conference.
Somali sources attending the conference told IRIN that it was up to the IGAD-led ceasefire monitoring committee to "start dealing with those who violate the agreement they signed, or lose its credibility as an effective committee."
"The ceasefire is being violated left and right, with the potential to undermine the peace talks, and the committee has done nothing up to now except issue condemnations. Condemnations are fine, but the committee should back them up with action," said Abdilatif Muhammad Afdhub, a delegate from the civil society.
Afdhub said if no serious action were taken against those who violated the ceasefire, it would send a wrong signal to Somalis. "It is like saying it is OK to sign agreements, but if you violate them there are no consequences," he told IRIN.
"It is time IGAD and the international community acted decisively against any violator if they want the talks to succeed," Afdhub said.