June 13, 2010 / 9:46 AM / in 10 years

Clash between Somalia police and soldiers kills 13

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Fighting between Somali government troops and police has killed at least 13 people in Mogadishu and gunmen killed a judiciary official in semi-autonomous Puntland, police said on Sunday.

The clash, on Saturday in the Hamarjajab district in the south of the capital, wounded 14.

“The clashes came after some of the government troops started to rob a civilian car and the police were trying to stop it,” Abdullahi Mo”alim Kerow, a police officer, told Reuters.

Nine soldiers were killed along with four civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

“The injured have been taken to ... hospital and the fighting has stopped,” Kerow said late on Saturday.

“This kind of clash among government troops is unfortunate and has been repeated so many times, claiming the lives of nearly 100 troops since January.”

Ten civilians were wounded and one of them later died, Ali Muse Abdi, coordinator of ambulance services in Mogadishu, said.

Somalia has had no effective central government for 19 years and Western efforts to install one to steer the country back to stability have been hampered by an insurgency by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents and another smaller group, Hizbul Islam.

The Transitional Federal Government controls only a few blocks of Mogadishu with the help of African Union peacekeepers.

In the port city of Bossaso in semi-autonomous Puntland, in north east Somalia, police said its deputy attorney general, Ahmed Jama Kalas, was killed and his bodyguard hurt on Saturday.

“The deputy attorney general was gunned down by two unidentified gunmen as he walked away from the courtroom and the police have arrested some suspects,” Said Farah, a police officer, told Reuters.

No one claimed responsibility for the killing.

The region is relatively stable compared with the rest of Somalia, but it is a hub for pirates who have been causing havoc in the strategic shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa. Experts say it is also home to organised criminals, including money counterfeiters and human traffickers.

Elsewhere, al Shabaab regained control of the strategic central town of Baladwayne from Hizbul Islam, residents said.

While Hizbul Islam and al Shabaab have fought together against the government in Mogadishu, they are rivals in other parts of the country.

Fighting in Somalia has killed at least 21,000 people since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes, triggering one of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies.

Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu, Abdiqani Hassan in Bossaso, editing by George Obulutsa and Janet Lawrence

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