Civilians killed as Marines pull out

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The Independent Online
Mogadishu (Reuter, AFP) - US Marines, firing cannons and machine-guns as they left Somalia yesterday, killed at least six civilians and wounded dozens, Somali and US sources said.

The country's top warlord, Mohamed Farah Aideed, celebrated their departure by throwing a party at his house, renovated since Spectre gunships bombed it in June 1993. A beaming Aideed exulted in the Marines' departure, saying Somalis "can rule our country".

His militiamen have seized control of the port and airport but he said he wanted men of his rival, Ali Mahdi, to patrol alongside his own force. Ali Mahdi, however, condemned the UN departure. "The international community has done a good job in this country [but] is leaving without completing certain major tasks," he said, notably "national reconciliation" and the "formation of a national government." Asked about a peace agreement, signed with General Aideed, he added: "I signed it, I have faith in it, but it only covers a small aspect of the entire crisis."

General Aideed appealed for continued humanitarian assistance to prevent a return of the famine which killed hundreds of thousands of Somalis before the UN mission arrived in late 1992.