Baidoa town reported calm

The southwestern Somali town of Baidoa was reported calm on Tuesday, a day after fierce fighting between rival factions killed 12 people and wounded more than 20 others, a local source told IRIN on Tuesday.

The fighting between factions of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), which controls much of Bay and Bakol regions in southwestern Somalia, erupted on Monday morning.

Forces loyal to former RRA chairman Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigudud and former RRA first-deputy chairman Shaykh Adan Madobe, who are currently ministers in the transitional Somali government, attacked the town, which is controlled by forces loyal to Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, an MP.

A local businessman who requested anonymity told IRIN that "things seem to be returning to normal. Almost all businesses which were closed yesterday [Monday] have reopened and people are coming out of their houses and assessing the damage of Monday's fighting".

The death toll from the clashes rose on Tuesday. A Baidoa hospital source told IRIN: "A number of people have died of their injuries, bringing the total of those who have died since Monday to 12," he said. Among the dead were four children whose house was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Many of the casualties, some of whom are in serious condition, were taken to Baidoa hospital and into private clinics. According to the businessman, the hospital was "completely devoid of medicines, and there are no doctors to speak of. Many of the wounded will probably die of treatable injuries simply due to lack of proper medical care".

Baidoa is one of the towns to which the Nairobi-based transitional government wants to relocate on a temporary basis until Mogadishu is secured. The Shatigudud-Madobe alliance supports the interim government's position, while Habsade is opposed to it.

"The fighting in Baidoa is another manifestation of a widening rift within members of the transitional federal institutions," a regional analyst told IRIN on Monday.

The conflict in Baidoa is rooted in a power struggle within the senior ranks of the RRA that resulted in a split in 2001. The town has changed hands several times since then.

Efforts by elders and religious leaders to intervene between the two sides have been unsuccessful so far. "There are attempts at mediation but they don’t look promising, since the elders have been unable to meet with Shatigudud and Madobe," a source said. Shatigudud and Adan Madobe were reportedly out of the country.