Clan violence flares in Somali port city

NAIROBI (Reuter) - About 60 people were killed and more than 5,000 driven out of Somalia's southern port city of Kismayu in battles between rival clans, a clan spokesman said yesterday.

The Somali Salvation Alliance, a group of 12 factions aligned to Ali Mahdi Mohamed, blamed the clashes on Mr Ali Mahdi's rival, General Mohamed Farah Aideed.

Gunmen in Mogadishu ambushed a United Nations convoy yesterday and killed an Egyptian soldier. A UN military spokesman said the soldier died and another was wounded in the attack in the Somali capital on a road guarded by Pakistani troops.

Other gunmen kidnapped two Italian aid workers in central Somalia. Officials said Sergio Passadore and Gianfranco Stefani of the European Committee for Agricultural Training were taken on the road linking the village of Timir and the town of Jowhar. Five foreign aid workers have been seized since January as United States troops and those of Western allies pull out. The three earlier captives were freed unharmed.

In Nairobi, where General Aideed has been for the last four weeks, his spokesman denied the charges and said he had condemned the latest violence in Kismayu.

The Salvation Alliance said fighting began on Thursday when forces loyal to General Aideed's ally, Colonel Ahmad Omar Jess, attacked a camp at Bulo Xaaji, 50 miles south- west of Kismayu. The camp was occupied by followers of Mr Ali Mahdi's ally, Mohamed Said Hersi, known as Morgan.

A spokesman for General Aideed denied that his forces or those of Colonel Jess were involved, saying the fighting was over stolen cattle.

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