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New Fighting Erupts in Somalia

July 26, 1999

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Fighting has broken out in southern Somalia between militiamen of a new faction and forces loyal to Hussein Aidid, one of Somalia’s most powerful faction leaders, a witness said today.

Members of the new Digil Salvation Army attacked Aidid’s men with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and rifles Sunday in Coriolei, 75 miles south of Mogadishu, the witness said on condition of anonymity.

Somalia has had no central government since the 1991 ouster of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre by a coalition of rebels. After his ouster, coup leaders turned on each other, and the country disintegrated into fiefdoms protected by clan-based militia.

Somalis descend from six original clans. Aidid is a member of the Habr-Gedir sub-clan of the Hawiya clan.

The new faction is led by Col. Ali Sheik Abdulkadir and is made up of members of the Gerra tribe of the pre-Hawiya clan, the witness said by shortwave radio from the area.

The witness said Coriolei was calm but tense Monday, and Aidid’s forces were fleeing.

It was not immediately possible to ascertain the number of casualties from the fighting.

Mahdi Mohamed Jumale, an Aidid spokesman in Mogadishu, said Aidid’s forces had ``engaged bandits″ and dispersed them.

The Gerra have been at loggerheads with Aidid’s forces in recent weeks, complaining of high taxation.

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