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Somalia fighting leaves 40 dead

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- At least 40 people have been killed and dozens wounded amid heavy fighting in Mogadishu.

Clashes erupted in the capital on Friday between forces loyal to the new transitional government and fighters loyal to the many warlords in Mogadishu.

Machine-gun and anti-aircraft artillery fire was reported across the city amid a battle for control of the port, residents said.

The transitional government of President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan set up last year is the country's first internationally recognised administration in nearly a decade.

But it controls only a small part of the country and is opposed by many of Somalia's warlords.

Arms shipment

Interior Minister Dahir Dayah said the government had ordered its troops to withdraw from the scene of the fighting to help efforts to end the confrontation, Reuters reported.

But aides of warlord Hussein Aideed accused the government of provoking the fighting and of plotting to kill Aideed.

The violence erupted a day after opposition warlords took delivery of a convoy of arms and ammunition in the city. Government officials told Reuters the attack was an apparent attempt to destabilise their fledgling administration.

The agency reported that the arms were delivered from Ethiopia to the headquarters of Muse Sudi Yalahow in southwest Mogadishu, one of several warlords including Aideed who met in Addis Ababa in March to establish a rival government to Abdiqassim's administration.

Observers say Ethiopia is nervous of any strong government in its neighbour and suspicious of perceived Islamic fundamentalist influences in Abdiqassim's government.

Aid workers freed in Somalia
April 4, 2001

U.N. Somalia

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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