Seven killed as rival clan militias fight in central Somalia

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Baladweyne (HMC) – At least seven people were killed in a heavy clashes between two clan militiamen in central Somali town Sunday, officials said.

The fighting erupted after the two militiamen from Galje’el and Jajele clans who fought for control of land and pastureland before again clashed in Beledweyne town, the provincial capital of Hiiran region, leading to street battles involving battlewagons and militiamen.

Officials in the town told HMC that civilians are among the victims caught in the fighting in Howlwadag locality which resulted in the displacement of hundreds from their homes.

Local elders have started mediation efforts to stop the conflict between the two clans that have long standing rivalries in a country which is recovering from decades of civil unrest.

Witnesses reported chaotic scenes in the town as the two sides exchanged shelling and gunfire as government and African Union forces in the town watched from afar.

Clan rivalry and civil unrest started in the horn of Africa after warlords overthrew the central government in 1991, leading to a perpetual civil strife that killed thousands of Somalis.

According to a recent World Bank study, Most of Somalia’s armed clashes since 1991 have been fought in the name of clan, often as a result of political leaders manipulating clannism for their own purposes. Yet traditional clan elders are a primary source of conflict mediation, clan-based customary law serves as the basis for negotiated settlements, and clan-based blood-payment groups serve as a deterrent to armed violence.