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Friday, June 09, 2006

Clashes erupt in Somali govt seat, 6 dead - reports

MOGADISHU, June 9 (Reuters) - At least six people were killed on Friday in the town of Baidoa in fighting between local militiamen and bodyguards of Somalia's interim president, local journalists said.

President Abdullahi Yusuf was not present during the clash, they said, adding that the fighting erupted after a dispute at a checkpoint in the town, seat of the weak interim administration.

The journalists, speaking by telephone, said the clash seemed unrelated to battles for control of the capital Mogadishu between Islamist militias and forces allied to a self-styled anti-terrorism coalition of warlords.

The interim administration, based in Baidoa since February, is too weak to enter the capital.

"Fighting erupted in Baidoa town between local militia and the bodyguards of the president," said Mohamed Adalwe, a local journalist.

Hospital sources said six people were killed, including an elder who had tried to stop the violence, and several more wounded, including one lawmaker, Mohamed Afaraali.

Media reports said the gunfight erupted when a government technical -- a pickup truck equipped with heavy guns -- tried to pass a checkpoint manned by a local militia, who demanded a payment.

Hundreds of roadblocks, where gunmen extort money from passing drivers, are dotted across lawless Somalia, providing a major source of income for militiamen.

Government spokesman Adirahman Dinari was not immediately available for comment.
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