American Soldiers Shoot Dead One Somali, Wound Second
KISMAYU, Somalia (AP) _ U.S. soldiers shot and killed one Somali man and wounded another in the clan war-plagued port of Kismayu, but the violence did not stop rivals from taking another tentative step toward peace today.
Fifteen groups turned in lists of their heavy weapons to U.S.-led forces today, officials said. The submission of the lists and the expected transfer of the weapons to allied control was viewed as indicating the factions’ willingness to work for peace in a country devastated by war.
Allied soldiers trying to halt clan warfare have at times found themselves caught in the crossfire. On Monday night, an Army foot patrol came under fire and shot back, killing one Somali, a U.S. military spokesman said.
While trying to retrieve the body, the patrol was fired on again and shot one Somali in the chest, the spokesman said. The condition of the wounded man was not known, and no U.S. soldiers were reported hurt.
Kismayu has been tense since supporters of Mohamed Said Hirsi, known as Gen. Morgan, launched a surprise attack last week that sent rival warlord Col. Omar Jess and hundreds of his fighters fleeing to the outskirts of town.
Morgan’s supporters say they only want to regain homes taken when Jess forced them to escape in fighting last year.
An international coalition led by American troops arrived on Dec. 9 to end warfare in Somalia, where fighting and starvation claimed the lives of 350,000 people last year.
The allied military coalition in Somalia has forced Morgan, a son-in-law of ousted dictator Mohammed Siad Barre, to confine his fighters to an area near the Kenyan border and has seized some weapons.
It also has ordered Jess to take his fighters and weapons at least 50 miles outside the city by midnight today or risk attack.
But supporters of the two rivals clashed Sunday and Monday in Kismayu, leaving five people dead.
Relief agencies in Mogadishu said Monday that their workers in Kismayu were unable to distibute aid for a second straight day because of the unrest.
Previous fighting between Morgan and Jess scuttled preliminary peace talks in January but planning has started for a full peace conference to begin March 15 in Ethiopia.
At peace talks scheduled in Mogadishu today, representatives of Somalia’s factions were to discuss a plan to disarm under U.N. supervision and 15 groups had turned in lists of their weapons to coalition leaders.
Marine Col. Peter Dotto, chairman of the cease-fire committee, said the factions are eager to comply in order to present themselves as political groups and not warlords at the peace talks in Ethiopia.
″Some of the lists are exaggerated to try to play up their importance,″ Dotto said. ″But nobody wants to be the last guy.″
A deadline for placing the weapons in monitored cantonment sites was likely to be determined today, Dotto said.
Officials said Mohamed Farrah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, the two main warlords in Mogadishu, already had turned in their lists last month.