Fighting resumes in Somali, 5 people dead

Islamic militias and secular warlords resumed fighting for control of the Somali capital on Wednesday, killing at least five people and wounding at least 11 others after a five-day lull, witnesses said. The fundamentalist Islamic militia expanded their control of parts of Mogadishu in the battle that began shortly after morning prayers, capturing a base on a key road linking Mogadishu with Somalia's central region, said Jamal Ali, who owns a garage in the northeastern neighborhood where fighting was taking place.

The radical militia also seized at least five prized trucks mounted with heavy weapons from their rivals. Dr. Sheikhdon Salad Elmi, director of Medina Hospital, said at least three bodies were taken to his hospital and two others were at the Keysaney Hospital. Ali told The Associated Press that at least eight dead bodies, mostly civilians, were visible in the battle zone.

Somalia has had no effective government since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, carving this nation of an estimated 8 million people into rival fiefdoms. Islamic leaders reject Somalia's weak transitional government because it is not based on Islam. Islamic fundamentalists portray themselves as an alternative force capable of bringing order to the country. They accuse a rival secular alliance known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism of working for the CIA, while the alliance accuses the self-appointed Islamic court leaders of having links to al-Qaida.

The power of Islamic fundamentalists who promise an end to the chaos is raising fears that the nation could follow the path of Taliban Afghanistan into the hands of al-Qaida.

In the past few days, hundreds have fled Mogadishu to avoid the fighting that has killed at least 83 people since last Wednesday. About 1,500 people have sought treatment at Mogadishu hospitals for injuries sustained during the fighting since the beginning of this year, U.N. officials say, reports the AP.

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