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Death toll rises to 40 in southern Somalia clashes

At least 13 people have been killed in factional fighting in southern Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, bringing the death toll in five days of bloodletting to about 40, local elders said Tuesday.

Fighting between the Garre and Gido subclans in Qoryoley district raged on Monday afternoon after a lull earlier in the day, local elder Abdi Hassan "Oday" said when contacted by field radio.

The violence, which erupted on Thursday, was sparked by allegations that members of the Garre subclan have been stealing cattle from their Gido neighbours during the past two months.

A spokesman for the Islamic court militia, believed to be the most heavily armed group in the Lower Shabelle region, said it would use its military might to quell the violence.

"The fighting has mostly affected civilians. It is harvest time now, not time for war," said Oday. Civilians from all communities had been killed, wounded or displaced, he added.

Somalia has been without a central government since 1991 and is wracked by conflict between rival clans and warlords.



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