22 June 2009

Somalia: President Declares State of Emergency, 12 Killed in Mogadishu Clashes

Photo: Yasmin Omar/IRIN
A patient recovers after being wounded by fighting in Mogadishu.

Mogadishu — Somalia's interim president declared a state of emergency as at least 12 people were killed in armed clashes in the Somali capital Mogadishu between pro-government forces and insurgents fighting to overthrow the interim government, Radio Garowe reports.

The fighting began Sunday night and continued into Monday morning, with heavy fighting and bombardment reported in Mogadishu's Yaaqshiid and Kaaraan districts.

More than 20 wounded persons were admitted to local hospitals for treatment.

"A lot of civilians are stuck in neighborhoods where water and electricity are cut off," said witness Halimo Da'ud.

Other witnesses said Muse Sudi Yalahow, one of Mogadishu's notorious ex-warlords and a Member of Parliament, was "leading battles" against insurgent forces of Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

'State of emergency'

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed told a press conference that Somalia has been "attacked by foreign fighters."

"After reviewing the situation in Somalia, we have decided to declare a state of emergency because the country is on the verge of being overrun by foreign fighters opposed to the Somali nation," President Sheikh Sharif said.

He urged the international community to help Somalia "defend" against foreign fighters, while asking the Somali parliament to pass the state of emergency.

President Sheikh Sharif was accompanied by Finance Minister Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, Fisheries Minister Abdirahman Ibbi and Information Minister Farhan Ali Mohamud, at the press conference held at Villa Somalia presidential compound in Mogadishu.

Somalia's UN-backed interim government is struggling to survive against a powerful insurgency led by Islamist rebels intent on overthrowing President Sheikh Sharif, whom they accuse of being a puppet of the West.

Government officials accuse Al Shabaab of having links to Al Qaeda and the U.S. government has placed the Somali faction on its list of international terror groups.

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