Fighting in Somali capital: 6 people killed

Rival militiamen renewed fighting Wednesday on the northern edge of Somalia 's lawless capital, witnesses and medical sources. More than 140 people most noncombatants caught in the crossfire were killed in eight days of fighting in Mogadishu earlier this month between Islamic militias and a rival alliance of secular warlords. The rivals signed a cease-fire on May 14, but over the weekend appeared to be preparing for another round of violence.

The latest fighting broke out at midnight Wednesday and intensified midmorning. "I saw two dead bodies lying in the street through my window," said Hassan Yare, a resident. Doctors at Madina and Keysaney Hospitals confirmed that three people were killed in the battle.

"We have lost one of our men in the battle, and I am sure six of their (Islamic militia) men were killed," said Abdi Dalab, a militia commander for the rival Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. He accused the Islamic militias of violating the cease-fire.

Leaders of the Islamic militias or the Islamic Courts Union that controls them were not immediately available for comment. It was not possible to independently confirm Dalab's claims. Hundreds of residents, who were optimistic that the tension would ease, following efforts by traditional elders to broker a fragile cease fire, have again began to flee from their homes in northern Mogadishu fearing that fighting could escalate.

Somalia has been embroiled in recent weeks by some of the worst fighting in more than a decade. The fundamentalists portray themselves as capable of bringing order to the country, which has been without a real government since largely clan-based warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

The Islamic militia's growth in popularity and strength, and the possibility that they have outside support, is reminiscent of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the late 1990s. The secular alliance, which includes members of a U.N.-backed interim government but acts independently of it, accuses the Islamic militiamen of having ties to al-Qaida. The Islamic group accuses the secularists of being puppets of the United States , reports the AP.

N.U.