12 July 2009

Somalia: 25 Killed in Mogadishu Fighting, Govt Forces Claim Victory

Mogadishu, Somalia — The fighting sparked on Saturday in parts of Mogadishu's Abdiaziz district, where pro-government forces and insurgents battled over control of neighborhoods.

Col. Nur Daqle, a senior government commander, was killed in the heavy clashes, according to Mogadishu warlord-turned-lawmaker Salad Ali Jeele.

"We killed foreign fighters in today's battle," MP Jeele told reporters, adding that pro-government forces "captured" two foreign fighters. Jeele was directly involved in the fighting, residents said.

A top commander at the Villa Somalia presidential compound, Abdulkadir Wehliye, said government troops captured two 'foreign fighters' identified as Abdul Haq and Faadil Mohamed, from Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively.

Somali military spokesman Col. Farhan Mahdi "Arsanyo" said government troops pushed back the insurgents, claiming that government forces captured new neighborhoods.

An unidentified fighter speaking for Hizbul Islam rebels on Mogadishu-based radio stations rejected reports that 'foreign fighters' were killed or captured. He also denied the government's claims that insurgents were forced to retreat from certain neighborhoods.

'Emergency military support'

Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake told reporters at the Villa Somalia presidential compound that the interim government needs 'emergency military support' to survive against the insurgents.

"The [Somali] government needs emergency military support to survive against being overthrown," Prime Minister Sharmake said.

He called on regional powers to help Somalia's interim government defend against insurgents who are "fighting with zeal and new weapons."

Prime Minister Sharmake warned against Mogadishu being overtaken by 'foreign fighters,' adding that the insurgents are "getting very close" to Villa Somalia.

Recently, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the Somali government is in a "very difficult position" but dismissed pressures for military intervention. Ethiopian troops withdrew from south-central Somalia in Jan. 2009, after sparking an Islamist-led insurgency raging till today.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the president of Somalia, returned to Mogadishu last week after traveling to Libya, Djibouti and Uganda, where he urged African Union member-states to boost the 4,200-strong AU peacekeeping force in the Somali capital.

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