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Over 40 killed in fighting in central region

Two days of heavy fighting in the south of Mudug region, have left at least 43 people dead and over 90 injured, a local journalist in the regional capital Galkayo told IRIN on Thursday.

The fighting broke out on Tuesday between the Sa'ad, Habar Gedir subclan and the Dir, and was concentrated in and around the villages of Towfiq and Awle, some 200 km east of Galkayo, the journalist Dahir Abdulkadir Aflow said. The two villages are populated by the Dir.

The clashes were triggered by revenge killings for the deaths of two Sa'ad men in Galkayo last week, but the ensuing escalation of violence was also attributed to disagreements over water and grazing in the area, Aflow said. "It is more about water and grazing land right now."

"Unfortunately, this is something that happens when nomads in search of pasture and water collide with each other," he said. This particular clash between the two clans had been "exacerbated by the easy availability of heavy weapons".

"Previously they used spears or guns but now both sides are using technicals [battlewagons fitted with heavy machine guns]," he said. "In an area with little cover for concealment, the casualty figures are bound to be high."

He added that the casualty toll was likely to rise once the fighting stopped and both sides could take their wounded to hospitals.

Abdullahi Dayib of the Dir clan told IRIN that among those killed from his clan were three women and four children.

The fighting has reportedly displaced hundreds of families who have no access to wells or water points, Dayib said. He stressed the need for help, "but given the lack of roads and current insecurity in the area, I doubt if anyone will come to their aid".

Calum McLean, chief of OCHA-Somalia, on Thursday expressed alarm over the casualty figures.

"Although there is no major humanitarian crisis resulting from the fighting, we are alarmed at the number of dead and injured in this longstanding conflict," he told IRIN. "We appeal to the actors involved to obey the ceasefire and respect the rights of the civilian population to protection."

Another humanitarian source told IRIN that fighting over grazing and water was not unusual in these areas.

"What is unusual, is for the clashes to escalate to this scale which has serious humanitarian repercussions for the communities involved," the source said. "The remoteness of the area makes it difficult to gauge the extent of the need and to make assistance available."

Dayib said that his side was ready for peace talks. "We have never opposed mediation efforts by neutral clans, and we would welcome it now. This fighting should never had happened".

By Thursday the fighting had subsided and neutral elders and religious leaders from Galkayo were trying to organise a mediation team, local sources said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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