Somalia

Somalia: "Banana war" leaves eight dead

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NAIROBI, 24 November (IRIN) - At least eight people were killed and over 10 wounded in heavy fighting which broke out in the southern coastal town of Marka, 100 km south of the capital Mogadishu, last week, according to local sources.
The fighting - between the Sa'd and Ayr subclans of the Habar Gedir - was concentrated in and around Marka and the town of Shalaanbood, 17 km northwest of Marka, the sources told IRIN on Monday.

According to a local aid worker, who requested anonymity, the clashes were triggered when Yusuf Muhammad Indha'ade, the commander of an Ayr subclan pro-Transitional National Government militia, imposed taxes on goods imported or exported through Marka port. Sa'd businessmen, opposed to the move, sent in their militia and took over a checkpoint in Shalaanbood manned by Indha'ade's militia "and then proceeded to attack Marka", he said.

"They were planning to export huge quantities of bananas to Arab countries, and therefore wanted to take control of the port. This is all about bananas and money. You can call it a banana war. But neither side is in control of the port," the aid worker added.

The fighting, which broke out on Saturday, had now subsided, but Marka was said to be "very tense". The Sa'd militia had reportedly lost two battle-wagons (technicals) and a Landcruiser. Meanwhile, the two sides had withdrawn from the town and were said to be waiting for reinforcements, he said.

All businesses were closed in Marka on Monday, with residents expecting more trouble, a local businessman told IRIN. "We are waiting for the inevitable resumption of the fighting."

The violence also arose from disagreements over the formation of a new administration for the town, with the Sa'd opposing "any administration involving Indha'ade", the businessman added

Meanwhile, Habar Gedir clan elders in Mogadishu have reportedly begun serious mediation efforts towards ending the violence in Marka, local sources said.

[ENDS]

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