(Formerly called IRIN) Journalism from the heart of crises

Hundreds fleeing Baidoa

Hundreds of people are fleeing their homes and businesses in the southwestern town of Baidoa after heavy fighting broke out between rival factions of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) which controls the area, local sources told IRIN on Thursday.

They said the conflict, which broke out last week, is centred around the villages of Dambal near Baidoa airport, and at Dainunai on the road to Mogadishu.

According to the sources, the fighting pits forces loyal to the RRA chairman, Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, against those of his former deputies Shaykh Adan Madobe and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade. Shatigadud and Madobe were reported to have reconciled recently, but sources on the ground said the accord had not yet taken hold.

One source said it appeared that anyone associated with Shatigadud's Harin sub-clan was being targeted. An employee of Olympic Telephone Company was shot dead in front of the company's offices, he said.

Telephone companies were threatening to shut down if "those in charge do not do something about the insecurity", he added.

He said that over the last two weeks, more than 15 people had been killed in and around Baidoa because of their clan affiliations, and the killings had become a daily occurrence.

"At this rate there won't be much business or anything else left in Baidoa, if the situation does not improve quickly and dramatically. As it is, it is almost out of control," he noted.

Attempts by IRIN to elicit comment from representatives of the Madobe/Habsade faction in Baidoa were unsuccessful.

The fighting in Baidoa is due to a split within the senior ranks of the RRA, which controls much of the Bay and Bakol regions of southwestern Somalia. The town changed hands numerous times between July and December last year.

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