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2,000 Killed In 18 Days Of Fighting

December 4, 1991

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Rival clans again traded fire in Somalia’s shattered capital Wednesday, the 18th day of fighting that aid workers said has killed 2,000 people and wounded 6,000 others.

Most of the casualties have been civilians hit by artillery barrages or attacked by bandits, according to aid workers with personnel in Mogadishu.

The fighting pits President Ali Mahdi Mohamed’s Abgal clan against Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s Habar Gedir clan. Both clans are subgroups of the Hawiiye clan, from which the ruling United Somali Congress draws its strength.

Each leader seeks to oust the other from their respective posts - Ali Mahdi is president and Aidid is party chairman. Their rivalry erupted in violence once before, in September.

The United Somali Congress seized control of Mogadishu in January after ousting former President Mohamed Siad Barre in a month of heavy fighting.

In the current violence, Aidid claims to have ousted Ali Mahdi. He repeated the claim in a statement Tuesday, and said he hopes to restore peace and establish a multiparty democracy.

Aid workers have said the capital is littered with graves from the ongoing battles. Gunfire is heard consistently but heavy shelling is confined to the late afternoon and evening.

As many as 40 percent of the city’s 1 million residents have fled to Mogadishu’s periphery to escape the battles in the seaside city.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Wednesday sent two more people to bolster its five-member team supporting Somali doctors working in the northern area of the city, where there are no hospitals.

The northern suburbs are the base of Ali Mahdi’s men, and the area is said to have been reduced to rubble by shelling.

On Thursday, the Red Cross also plans to send five people to assist surgeons at hospitals in southern Mogadishu, the area controlled by Aidid.

Enzo Vecchio, an Australian photographer who recently returned from Mogadishu, described conditions at the hospitals as ″a nightmare.″

″Those that are too critically wounded - like with severe head wounds - are put off to the side to die because they don’t have facilities for neurosurgery,″ he said.

Update hourly