4 days of fighting has killed 400 in Somalian capital, group says

The Baltimore Sun

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces and Islamic insurgents in Somalia's capital has killed nearly 400 people, mostly civilians, in the past four days, a Somali human rights group said yesterday.

The fighting abated long enough yesterday to allow thousands of people to flee the ruined coastal city on foot and in donkey carts, cars and trucks. About 47,000 people -- mainly women and children -- have abandoned their homes in the past 10 days, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Since February, nearly 100,000 people have fled the violence, the agency said.

Yesterday's lull appeared to follow a truce between Ethiopian forces and insurgents, brokered by the capital's dominant clan. But Deputy Defense Minister Salad Ali Jelle said the accord was "null and void" and warned residents to leave because the fighting could resume at any time.

Ethiopian troops were being reinforced near insurgent strongholds in the southern part of the city.

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