Friday, July 05, 2013
At least 71 people have been killed and more than 300 wounded in
ongoing fighting between rival militias in the Somali city of Kismayo,
the World Health Organization said Thursday.
The clashes in the
southern port city have displaced many and "continues to have a profound
impact on civilians and humanitarian aid work" in the region, the
United Nations health agency said.
Many of the victims suffered fractures, head and chest injuries. Nearly 40 patients had to be operated on, according to WHO.
is currently the scene of intense, sporadic battles as rival militias
fight for control of the strategic city. Somalia's central government
accuses Kenyan troops stationed in Kismayo of backing one militia
against others and wants the African Union —under whose auspices the
Kenyans are deployed — to send a neutral force there.
government has filed a complaint with the African Union in which it
charges that the conduct of Kenyan troops in Kismayo is undermining
military efforts against the Islamic militants of al-Shabab. Kenyan
troops are accused of backing the Raskamboni brigade, a militia that
helped them push al-Shabab out of Kismayo. The Raskamboni brigade is led
by Ahmed Madobe, a key power broker around Kismayo who is not supported
by Somalia's central government in the capital. Madobe's militia is
fighting a group led by former warlord Barre Hirale.
foreign ministry complained in a letter to the African Union this week
that Kenyan troops in Kismayo had scuttled plans to have a united force
there that is led by a Somali commander. Because of this, the letter
said, "various clan factions" had formed, undermining peace and security
in the wider Jubba region.
The letter said the conflict in
Kismayo had given al-Shabab an "unwarranted lull at a critical time" and
that momentum gathered against the militants "has come to a halt."
is important for Kenya, which seeks a friendly buffer zone near its
border with Somalia — one of the main reasons it sent troops to Somalia
to fight al-Shabab in late 2011. But the rival militias now at war there
appear to be interested in the economic engine of Kismayo. Its port
generates large and reliable income, and has been the export point of
Somali-made charcoal made illegal by the U.N.