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Toll rises to 59 in south Somalia clashes: witnesses

A week of factional clashes in southern Somalia's Lower Shabelle region has left some 59 people dead, many of them non-combattant civilians, witnesses told AFP on Wednesday.

Fighting between the Garre and Gido subclans continued Wednesday, Gido elder Mohamed Mayow Nur told AFP, adding that 18 people had been killed in clashes there since Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of dead to 59.

A 90-year-old man died when his home was torched by militiamen from one of the warring groups, said Nur, who was contacted by field radio.

"Ali Ahmed Isaq died in his house in Farkerow village because he was unable to escape from the flames," said Nur.

He claimed that Garre militiamen had also shot and killed five unarmed women and three children.

Elders from communities not involved in the fighting confirmed the killing of Isaq and several other civilian members of the Gido subclan in Farkerow.

Two Gido villages, Melayley and Dharkenley, were burned to the ground in a revenge attack after Garre elders accused Gido fighters of torching homes in Herlabad village.

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

Somalia has been without a central government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, and is wracked by conflict between rival clans and warlords.



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