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Week-long clashes in Somalia leave 35 dead

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of armed militia members at Somalia's border with Ethiopia

A week of clashes in villages near Somalia’s border with Ethiopia has killed at least 35 people, mostly civilians, officials and traditional elders say.

The sources added on Sunday that the clashes erupted between Somali clan militia and members of the Liyu police, an Ethiopian paramilitary unit operating in Ethiopia's ethnic Somali region.

Fighting reportedly started a week ago and intensified on Friday

"The Liyu Police Unit launched an attack on innocent civilians. They are attacking villagers and killing people who keep livestock," said Hussein Weheliye Irfo, the governor of the Galgadud region in central Somalia.

"It is effecting a vast area and the casualties are very high, 35 dead bodies have been counted so far," said Mohamed Garane, a traditional elder in Guricel district where the wounded are hospitalized.

Another elder in the region, Daud Moalim Ise, said the Liyu force had resorted to "excessive force", adding, "We have received around 29 wounded, most of them civilians.”

According to Ali Omar, director of the main hospital in Guricel district, “Many others are unable to reach here. Among them are women and children with severe gunshot wounds."

It was not yet clear what had triggered the clashes, which are not connected to the ongoing battles between African Union troops and al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants operating in southern Somalia.

Some sources said the fighting may have stemmed from allegations that a Liyu police member had raped a local woman.

MFB/KA/SS


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