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Food, Drug Aid Arrive in Somalia

December 12, 1998

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Tons of food and medicine arrived Saturday in Somalia, where more than 700,000 people were affected by food shortages in the southern part of the nation, a relief official said.

A ship carrying 825 short tons of dry foods and 250 crates of cholera medicine docked at the port town of Merca, said U.N. World Food Program official Khadija Ahmed Abukar. Merca is 65 miles south of the capital, Mogadishu.

Officials said 25 people _ most of them children _ have died in the past two weeks in the Middle Juba region, where alternating periods of drought and flooding have destroyed crops.

There have also been many cases of cholera in the region.

Meanwhile, fighting between rival clans erupted in Somalia’s key southern port of Kismayo, and unconfirmed reports from the town said as many as 20 people were killed and 40 wounded.

Witnesses reached by VHF radio said businesses remained closed after shelling in the town.

Somalia has lacked a central government since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Rival clan-based militia have since divided the country into armed fiefdoms.

Update hourly