Friday, February 17, 2006

Heavy fighting on Ethiopia-Somalia border kills at least 12

Source: Agence France-Presse
Date: 17 Feb 2006

MOGADISHU, Feb 16, 2006 (AFP) - Rival Somali sub-clans battled over pasture
and wells just inside Ethiopia leaving at least 12 dead and more than two
dozen wounded in a second day of fighting Thursday as competition for water
and pasture heats up in the drought-stricken region, officials said.

The clashes in the Ethiopian village of Yamarug began Wednesday between
heavily armed militia members from the Marehan and Majereteen factions of
the larger Darod clan in a dispute over the precious resources, they said.

Yamarug is a remote and desolate outpost in southeastern Ethiopia only
about 30 meters (yards) from the border with central Somalia and eyewitness
accounts of the fighting were sketchy.

At least 12 and as many as 17 people were reported to have been killed,
according to officials in nearby towns in Somalia where the wounded from
the two factions were brought for treatment.

A nurse at the hospital in Galkayo, where the Majereteen casualties were
brought, said the facility was treating 17 injured fighters who spoke of
the same number being killed on both sides in the two days of fighting.

"They are saying the same number were killed," the nurse told AFP on
condition of anonymity.

In the town of Abudwaq, where the Marehan casualties were brought, a
district official said the nine wounded spoke of 12 people being killed
although he said the actual number would likely rise.

"The fighting has not stopped and miltiamen from both sides heading to
reinforce the area," the official told AFP.

In the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, an official with the information
ministry confirmed the clashes but could not confirm their seriousness or
any casualties.

"There were clashes between Somali subclans at the border," the official
said. "We have sent out a fact-finding mission and are waiting for the
results of the investigation."

Tensions between the two factions have run high for some time but they have
managed to live together in the Yamarug area for years without violence,
according to Somalia observers.

They said those tensions likely erupted into fighting due to the scorching
drought that has hit east Africa, threatening more than eight million
people with starvation in four countries, including Ethiopia and Somalia.

About 3.4 million people -- 1.7 million each in southeast Ethiopia and
southern and central Somalia -- are at-risk and in need of dire assistance
to stave off famine, according to UN agencies.

str-amu/mvl/jmy AFP 162233 GMT 02 06

Copyright (c) 2006 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 02/16/2006 18:00:58

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