Tuesday May 03, 201109:32 AM GMT
Clashes leave 26 dead in SW Somalia
Tue May 3, 2011 7:48AM
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Al-Shabab fighters conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia. (file photo)
At least twenty-six people have been killed after bitter clashes broke out between government-allied Ahlu Sunna Waljama militiamen and al-Shabab fighters in southwestern Somalia.

The hours-long skirmishes took place in the town of Garbaharey, located in the region of Gedo and near the borders with Ethiopia and Kenya, a Press TV correspondent reported.

A security official said all victims were members of al-Shabab. However, initial reports said three gunmen from Ahlu Sunna Waljama group were also among those killed during the bloody battle.

The latest development comes as pro-government forces reclaimed control of Garbaharey town on Thursday after al-Shabab pulled out without a fight.

Garbaharey is the latest in a string of major towns in the region the al-Shabab have lost in recent weeks.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Over the past two decades, up to one million people have been killed in Somalia in the fighting between rival factions and also due to famine and disease.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia, with over 300,000 of them sheltered in Mogadishu alone.

Most of the displaced live in poor and degrading conditions on makeshift camps in southern and central Somalia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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