22/03/07 (B387-B) BBC : Battles resume in Somali capital (En Anglais – Info lectrice)

has resumed in Somalia, a day after 16 people died during clashes between
Ethiopian-backed government forces and insurgents.

A BBC correspondent in Mogadishu says four people have died in the fighting
in the north and south of the city.

This week’s fighting is the heaviest since 1,200 African Union peacekeepers
arrived in Somalia earlier this month.

Islamist leader Sheikh Dahir Aweys has called on Somalis to resist
the occupation of AU troops and Ethiopians.

Hundreds of residents are fleeing the violence.

The BBC’s Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the heaviest fighting was
reported in the south of the city, where insurgents tried to cut supply lines
to Ethiopian troops.

If all foreign troops leave Somalia we shall settle our differences

In northern Mogadishu, government forces were attacked near a cattle market.

Internal Affairs Minister Mohammed Mohamoud Gulled said government troops
were clearing insurgents ahead of April’s reconciliation conference.

Mr Gulled told reporters in Mogadishu that the operation would last for seven

The interim government blames remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC)
for the escalating violence and plans to pacify the city within 30 days.

But speaking hours after the bodies of government soldiers were dragged through
the streets and set on fire in Mogadishu, UIC leader Sheikh Aweys said Somalis
were defending themselves.

"If all foreign troops leave Somalia we shall settle our differences.
But at the moment the people in Mogadishu are defending themselves and nobody
should question them," Sheikh Aweys told the BBC Somali Service from
an undisclosed location.

Ethiopia has reports that the bodies were of Ethiopian soldiers.

Ethiopian troops who have been in the city since December supporting Somali
forces loyal to the transitional government have been gradually handing over
responsibilities to the AU force.