SOMALIA: Land dispute erupts in Galkayo, 10 killed

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ten people have been killed and at least 20 others injured in inter-clan fighting over land in Somalia's central town of Galkayo in the Mudug region, sources told IRIN on 18 March.

The fighting broke out on 17 March between the Sa'ad, Habar Gedir sub-clan and the Dir, and was concentrated near the Galkayo airport and nearby south Galkayo settlements, a journalist, Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed, of Daljir radio, said.

The clash was triggered by a land dispute, but the ensuing escalation of violence was attributed to a long-simmering rivalry between the clans, said a local businessman.

"A few years ago over 80 people were killed when the two sides fought over water points and pasture," he added.

Mudug region governor Dahir Abdulkadir Aflow said forces from the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, known as Darawishta, had been dispatched to intervene.

"We have forces that are now separating the two sides," Aflow said, and a mediation team was trying to resolve the dispute.

He said there was no fighting "going on today [18 March] … We are waiting for elders from both sides to meet today to hammer out their differences under the auspices of the regional administration."

Sheikh Shuuriye of the Dir clan said the fighting started unexpectedly, "but we are doing everything we can to contain it".

He said he was confident the mediation efforts would produce a lasting solution.

The fighting took place near a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Mohamed of Daljir Radio said many of the IDPs in the Buulo Ba'aley camp had fled due to the fighting. He said some of the injured were being treated at Galkayo General Hospital.

Intensive mediation efforts on the part of the local administration, elders and religious leaders from neutral clans seem to have calmed the situation.

"We have been able to bring the two sides together to start talking," said Aflow. "I am confident that we will end this today."

Source: IRIN