Clashes between feuding clan militias in Kismayo killed 11 people on Saturday (February 23rd), AFP reported.
The fighting erupted when a clan leader died at a police station, prompting battles between Marehan and Ogadeni clansmen, two of the three groups that have traditionally fought for control of Kismayo.
"I saw at least 11 people, especially fighters, killed in these battles," said Kismayo elder Mohamed Ga'al. "It is the worst fighting since al-Shabaab left the city, and even if the situation is calm now, the two sides continue to regroup."
Witnesses said the Kenyan soldiers stationed in Kismayo as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) did not intervene to end the clashes.
Eyewitness Ali Moalem Suleman said three of the dead were civilians caught in the exchange of fire, and that six civilians were taken to hospital with injuries.
Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon condemned the violence. "We are shocked to learn that two fraternal clans are fighting and spilling innocent blood, while residents await the establishment of a regional government," he said in a statement.
On Friday in Kismayo, security forces arrested 50 suspected al-Shabaab supervisors before a conference to determine the foundational principles for a Jubbaland state scheduled to begin on Saturday.
Some of the suspects are being held at the central police station and others have been transferred to AMISOM bases near the city, regional security chief General Ismail Sahardid told UN-funded Radio Bar-Kulan.