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Fighting Dies Down in South Mogadishu as Aidid Returns

April 6, 1996

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Fighting died down Saturday in the Somali capital with the arrival of self-proclaimed president Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid, after an eight-month absence.

Aidid, with several hundred heavily armed militiamen and at least 25 paramilitary vehicles, arrived late Friday in the capital’s southern section, his area of influence.

More than 25 people were believed killed in two days of fighting that began with a breakdown in peace talks between Aidid and a rival leader, Osman Hassan Ali Ato, who formerly was Aidid’s financial backer.

Aidid reportedly had been in Baidoa, 210 miles southwest of Mogadishu. Speculation was that he returned under pressure from other clan leaders who want him to try to end the fighting.

The clash has weakened both Aidid’s and Ato’s standing with Ali Mahdi Mohamed, whose militia controls north Mogadishu, which has remained generally calm.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.

On Friday, a high-level European Union delegation was delayed at least an hour when shots were exchanged between an Aidid deputy and a local clan chief, known as Gen. Morgan, in the southern port city of Kismayo.

Morgan spokesman Abullahi Ali Guled accused Aidid’s deputy, Haji Aden, of plotting to kidnap the EU delegation as it left the Kismayo airport for a visit to a hospital.

Aidid objected to the EU visit because its head, EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Emma Bonino, did not arrive in south Mogadishu as Aidid requested. Bonino was the highest-ranking international official to visit Somalia since U.N. peacekeeping forces left in March 1995.

There were no reported injuries in the shooting, and the EU delegation arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday night.

Bonino was on the last leg of a four-country African tour to assess continued aid in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Somalia. The EU has allocated $60 million to Somalia for developing livestock _ the country’s mainstay _ education, health, agriculture, water and infrastructure.