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SOMALIA: More than 20 killed in fighting in Bay region

NAIROBI, 17 August 2004 (IRIN) - More than 20 people have died in two days of heavy factional fighting in the Bay region of south-central Somalia, local sources in the regional capital, Baidoa, 240 km southwest of Mogadishu, told IRIN on Monday. About thirty others were wounded.

The fighting broke out on Friday between the Dabare and Luway subclans of the larger Digil-Mirifle group. The clashes were concentrated in and around the town of Dinsoor, 90 km west of Baidoa, and in the surrounding villages, according to one source.

The violence was triggered off by a land dispute and "differences over who should be represented in the Dinsoor district council," a source, who asked not to be named, said.

"It is more about land and who has a right to be in Dinsoor," he added. The Dabare, who are indigenous to the Dinsoor area were resisting attempts by members of the nomadic Luway to join the district council, he added.

The fighting reportedly displaced many families, leaving them with no access to wells and other water points. The source stressed that water points had been targeted during the fighting "so people avoid them".

The fighting subsided on Monday, but the warring groups were said to be sending militia reinforcements to their positions.

Elders and religious leaders from neutral clans had left Baidao for the violence-hit area to mediate an end to the conflict. "It is difficult to predict whether they will succeed or not" the source told IRIN.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the overthrow of the regime of Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991. Militias loyal to the country's various clans and warlords frequently clash over the control of territory and resources.

A national reconciliation conference aimed at ending anarchy and violence in the Horn of Africa country is underway in neighbouring Kenya. But progress in setting up a new government for Somalia has been slow, mainly because of clan differences.

In June, nearly 60 people were killed in clashes between rival clans in the southwestern town of Bulo Hawa. About 2,500 families were displaced in and around the town while another 2,000 people fled to Mandera in neighbouring Kenya.

The dead included a medical doctor, Muhammad Hasan Ali, who was killed as he left a mosque, and seven children, killed when a bomb they found exploded as they played with it.

The fighting pitted an alliance of the Marehan subclans of Hawarsame Rer Hasan and Habar Ya'qub, which dominate Gedo, against the Ali Dheere and Rer Ahmad subclans.

In May, 100 people died in clashes between two rival groups in Mogadishu. Hundreds were wounded and thousands displaced from their homes.

The fighting was triggered off by a row between militias belonging to the Abgal clan, but loyal to two business people. It involved forces guarding a hotel in the northern Mogadishu district of Behani, and those allied to a local businessman from the Warsangeli subclan. The latter group attacked the hotel, which is owned by a businesswoman from the Wabudan subclan.

Theme (s): Conflict,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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