Garowe Online (Garowe)

1 January 2010

Somalia: More Than 1,700 Killed in Clashes in 2009 - Group

A Mogadishu-based Human Right group says fighting between insurgents and government troops backed by African Union forces has claimed the lives of more than 1700 people, mostly civilians.

Elman Peace and Human Rights group (EHRO) says most of the deaths occurred in the last months of the years in the war-ravaged capital Mogadishu but the number is lower than previous years.

The fighting in Mogadishu killed at least 1,739 people, including men, women and children and this figure is much lower than the two past years," said the group's vice chairman Ali Sheikh Yassin Gedi in a statement.

Gedi says most of the death was caused by shelling that rocked the capital, planned assassinations by anti-government forces and stray bullets.

The group also said that 4,911 people, all of them civilians were wounded in the shelling and gun battle that the capital experienced in the year.

"The year 2008, which saw the battle between Ethiopian forces and Islamic Courts militia, the death figure was 7,574 while 8636 people were killed in 2007," the group said.

The clashes in the capital also displaced at least 3,900 people who are now living in squalid conditions in Internally Displaced persons' camps.

The report comes as clashes between Hizbul Islam and Somali forces backed by AU troops killed four people and injured 10 others in the capital on Thursday.

The clashes erupted on Wednesday night and continued on Thursday morning in the capital's Hodan districts with mortar shells and gunfire exchanged.

However, Defense Minister Yusuf Mohamed Siad Indha Adde told reporters in Mogadishu that no soldier was killed in the fighting.

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