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Four killed in gunfight between Somali soldiers

Government troops are stopping and inspecting public transport vehicles in an area of Mogadishu under their control (© 2009 AFP)

A gunfight broke out Wednesday between Somali government forces in Mogadishu, resulting in the death of four people, including two civilians, officials said.

“Four people, two of them civilians, were killed during infighting between Somali security forces at Ex-Control checkpoint,” Abdurahman Hersi, a government security official, told AFP.

Ex-control checkpoint is the name given to a key intersection on the road linking Mogadishu to Afgoye, a town further west around which hundreds of thousands of displaced people have are camped.

“We are still investigating what stirred the fight that broke out this morning,” Hersi said.

Witnesses explained that two different groups of government soldiers set up rival checkopints around the intersection, sparking an armed clash.

The shoot-out erupted as the government troops began a security operation in an area of Mogadishu under their control, stopping and inspecting public transport vehicles.

“The Somali police security forces launched massive operations to ensure the security in the neighbourhoods the government controls. We need to crack down on the violent elements undermining the stability in the city,” police spokesman Abdulahi Hasan Barise told reporters.

“The operations will continue until the security and safety of the people is assured.”

The Somali government, backed by African Union peacekeepers, is planning an onslaught against hardline Islamist insurgents who have carried out relentless attacks against it.

Civilians, who have borne the worst brunt of the conflict between the rival sides, have been pouring out of the war-riven Mogadishu in fear of the planned offensive.

“The police forces are doing their best to foil any attempt by the trouble makers to carry out attacks against Somali government officials and civilians. Hundreds of policemen are involved in the operation,” police officer Mohamed Ali Sadaq told AFP.

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