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Issue 501/ 3rd - 9th Sept 2011
At Least 21 Dead In Somali Rebel Clashes
Mogadishu, Somalia, September 3, 2011 — At least 21 people have been killed and 31 others wounded in two days of heavy fighting on the border of Somalia proper and the breakaway state of Puntland, officials and witnesses said Friday.
Clashes broke out Thursday in the northern part of Galkayo town after Puntland soldiers raided neighborhoods searching for gunmen linked to Al Qaeda-inspired Shabaab militants.
"Puntland security forces carried out security operations in Galkayo after getting concrete information regarding elements with links to the Shabaab terrorist group," a Puntland interior ministry statement read.
"The raid was successful and heavy casualties were inflicted on the terrorists," the statement added.
Galkayo straddles the border between the northern breakaway state of Puntland and central Somalia.
Security officials said fighting erupted again early Friday after both sides reinforced their positions.
"We are not sure exactly how many people were killed, but we are getting reports that there are at least 21, most of them (rebel) fighters," said Mohamed Jama, a security official in the semi-autonomous region.
Witnesses gave the same toll, and said both sides continued to face off around the city as sporadic fighting was still going on Friday.
"The fighting has continued for two days, and more than 20 people have died so far, but 31 others, most of them civilians, have been injured," said Abdukadir Farah, a witness.
"I saw at least 10 dead bodies this morning, and there were more than 10 others killed on Thursday," said Ahmed Jego, another resident. "The fighting was very heavy."
Hardline Shabaab rebels still control large parts of southern and central Somalia, including areas that the United Nations have declared as famine zones.
Somalia is the worst affected country by the Horn of Africa's worst drought in decades, with nearly half its 10 million people in need of humanitarian aid.