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Hussein Aideed faces militia protest

Elders and local officials held talks on Monday to try and end four days of sporadic gun battles and looting by militia loyal to faction leader, Hussein Aideed, AP reported.

Militiamen complaining of lack of pay, food and medical care have engaged in shootouts around the former presidential residence, Villa Somalia, in Mogadishu.

Buildings have been damaged over the last four days as the militia men - still loyal to clan leader Hussein Mohamed Aideed - used heavy machineguns in a looting protest.

Doors, windows, furniture and ammunition have been snatched. According to the AP report from Mogadishu, it is not clear whether the faction leader remains in his residence, or if there have been any casualties.

The name "Villa Somalia" encompasses the compound of the presidential residence, now used as an operational base and sleeping area for hundreds of militia.

Most of the former grandiose buildings were destroyed and looted when Siad Barre was driven from Mogadishu in 1991; but Hussein Aideed restored one of the villas at the rear of the compound for his private use.

He uses a former government building outside the compound for official work. Many of the discontented militia are young gunmen, but others are older former soldiers who supported his father, General Mohamed Farah Aideed.

Residents blamed deteriorating security on the growing number of armed militiamen "roaming the streets".

AP reported, saying it was linked to the reported progress of peace talks in Djibouti. Faction leaders "could find their power eroded", claimed the report from Mogadishu.

Hussein Aideed has refused to participate in the talks, and claims, along with some other faction leaders, that the Djibouti process will provoke a new round of war.



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