Somalia Experiences New Type of Fighting

MOGADISHU, Somalia — From interclan fighting to religious battles to pirate wars, Somalia is plagued by countless kinds of conflict. But this weekend, another kind erupted: between the army and the police.

According to Somali officials, there was fierce fighting on Saturday between police officers and army soldiers — all working for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government — in one of Mogadishu’s relatively quiet neighborhoods, Hamar Jajab. At least seven were killed, although it is not clear what started the conflict.

Some residents said army soldiers had been robbing cars, and when police officers intervened, a mini-war between the heavily armed men on each side broke out. Other residents said that the police had been trying to hijack trucks carrying desperately needed food aid when the army came to the rescue.

The neighborhood’s chairman, Abdi Baasid Mohamoud, described the fighting as an accident. He said that a group of soldiers had been chasing thieves through the streets and firing at them, and that police officers became confused and mistakenly shot at the soldiers instead of the thieves. “Some government soldiers chasing thieves clashed with other soldiers,” Mr. Abdi Baasid said.

At least seven people were killed, he said, though local news reports indicated that more than 10 people had died, including several civilians.

The transitional government has been teetering on the edge of collapse for years. Despite a large injection of Western aid, including American money for weapons and soldiers, security is still elusive, and lately the government has had difficulties controlling its own troops. Government soldiers frequently clash with one another, undermining the effort to fight against radical Islamist insurgents who rule much of the country.

Somalia has languished without a functioning central government since 1991. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have starved to death, and countless others have been violently killed in the never-ending battles for control of this country.

[original]

spotted by RS

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