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Militia clash at Somali government base Baidoa


NAIROBI (Reuters) - Up to seven people were injured on Tuesday in a clash that erupted when militiamen tried to seize an official car at the temporary base of Somalia's interim government in Baidoa, diplomatic and government sources said.

Baidoa, in southern Somalia, had been chosen as a safe base for President Abdullahi Yusuf's fledgling administration while it waits for security to improve in the capital Mogadishu.

But authorities have struggled to keep local Baidoa militia under control and away from government security personnel.

One foreign source told Reuters that a local militia tried to seize the fisheries minister's vehicle as it drove through Baidoa on Tuesday. "Seven people were injured, five in the militia which attacked the car, two defending it," he said.

The minister was not present during the incident, which happened a day after U.N. Horn of Africa envoy Kjell Magne Bondevik visited the town under tight security.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said calm had been restored after the clash, with roads and shops open as normal. He could not confirm what caused the fighting which he had heard injured two civilians and one militiaman.

"They were some rumours they wanted to loot one of the cars used to escort the president. We're waiting for the report of the police," Dinari added in a telephone interview.

Yusuf's government, which was set up in Kenya in 2004 and returned to Somalia last year, is the 14th attempt to return central control to the anarchic Horn of Africa nation which has been run by warlords for the last 15 years.

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