KISMAYU, SOMALIA // The death toll from the worst fighting in southern Somalia for months rose to 55 today with scores wounded, rights activists and residents said. Yesterday was particularly bloody even by the Horn of Africa nation's standards, with insurgents battling with pro-government clan militia in the southern port of Kismayu and similar clashes breaking out in the capital Mogadishu. "So far we have confirmed 55 dead people, mostly those who were involved in the fighting," Ali Bashi, the head of the local Faanoole human rights group said.
Somalia's interim government and Ethiopian allies have faced an Iraq-style insurgency of mortar attacks, roadside bombings and assassinations since early last year. The violence has killed more than 8,000 civilians and uprooted another 1 million. The government signed a peace deal with some opposition figures on Monday, but the agreement had already been rejected by the insurgents and other opposition hardliners.
Mr Bashi said at least 100 people had been injured in Kismayu. "We condemn this genocide and urge the two groups to stop the fighting unconditionally," he said. The manager of Kismayu general hospital, Abdi Ahmed Sugule, said there was only one doctor and a handful of nurses on duty. "We are also running short of drugs and more people are on the way to the hospital," Mr Sugule said. Kismayu had been relatively peaceful in recent months compared with the bombed-out capital Mogadishu, which was also the scene of fierce fighting on yesterday.
Some of those battles took place near the residence of the Somalia president Abdullahi Yusuf. Mr Yusuf is currently visiting Ethiopia. * Reuters