Somali warlords to head peace march

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The Independent Online
MOGADISHU - Somalia's two dominant warlords are scheduled to lead a peace march today in central Mogadishu and to lift the so-called 'green line' that separates their factional militias after yesterday's first deployment of US marines in the northern sector of the capital, writes Karl Maier.

The agreement, announced yesterday at the end of two days of US-brokered peace talks, was met with great scepticism by Somalis and military analysts who argued that neither General Mohamed Farah Aideed, whose forces dominate the south of the city, nor the nominal interim president, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, control all the gunmen along the 'green line'.

On Saturday, gunmen in the Ali Mahdi-controlled northern sector attacked a UN observation compound with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns but were beaten back by Somali guards and Pakistani United Nations forces. Two attackers were killed and three were wounded. Two US F-18 fighter jets and several helicopter gunships overflew the scene but did not engage in battle.

Ali Mahdi and General Aideed yesterday echoed the call by the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for the US-led international forces, now numbering nearly 25,000, to step up the disarmament of gunmen. 'As we get more and more troops in here, we will be getting more aggressive on disarmament,' said the US spokesman, Colonel Steve Ritter.

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