15 killed in Somali violence

At least 11 civilians and four security officers were today killed in the Somali capital in two separate incidents of violence, an officer and residents said.

Islamic insurgents fired several mortars from Mogadishu’s main Bakara market in the direction of African Union peacekeeping bases in the capital’s south, said witness Dahir Mohamed.

In response, the AU troops, who are backing Somalia’s weak government, fired several missiles, some hitting Bakara market and others hitting residential areas. Residents report at least 10 civilians have been killed.

Mohamud Jama said the missiles killed three civilians and flattened six houses in Hodon district where he lives. Abdi Haji, who owns a cosmetics shop in Bakara, said he saw seven bodies, one of them a woman.

AU officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance services, said 15 civilians were taken to different hospitals in the capital.

Earlier today, at least four security personnel and a civilian died when two groups of security officers fought over where to collect their salaries, said police officer Ali Nur Mohamed Hassan.

He said the 15-minute shoot-out, which was later stopped by senior commanders, occurred when dozens of military officers went to a police base in the Somali capital to collect their pay.

However, the police told the officers to go to the presidential palace and collect their pay there.

The military men refused, starting a gunfight, Mr Hassan said. He said he was at the base but did not take part in the shoot-out.

Somalia’s security personnel do not receive regular paycheques, and often threaten violence, but this is the first incident where security officers have actually fought over pay.

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