KISMAYO, Somalia Aug 21 (Garowe Online) – Fighting between clan militias and the Islamist group al Shabaab in southern Somalia killed at least 20 people, Radio Garowe reported Thursday.
A Radio Garowe correspondent in the southern port city of Kismayo reported that 22 wounded persons are currently being treated at the local hospital.
“Al Shabaab now control 80% of Kismayo,” according to our correspondent.
The situation in Kismayo was calm on Thursday but businesses remained closed, citing security reasons.
The fighting erupted yesterday when a landmine hit an armed truck full of clan militias. Three people – all of them civilians – were killed and eight others wounded, witnesses said.
Street battles pitting al Shabaab insurgents against militias loyal to clan warlords who controlled Kismayo since April 2007 then began, killing at least 17 people.
“I saw 11 dead bodies…all of them fighters,” said a witness who did not want to be named.
Al Shabaab commanders declined comment, but one fighter confidentially told Radio Garowe that their fighters “control most of Kismayo.”
Kismayo’s clan rulers have not spoken publicly, with emerging reports saying some of the leaders have fled the town.
Interim Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has long maintained that Kismayo is not in the hands of the Ethiopian-backed transitional government.
There are no Ethiopian forces present in Kismayo and the Jubba regions as a whole, although clan militias there claim they are part of the government.