Somalia

Two Factions Clash In Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Heavy fighting was reported today north of Mogadishu between the militias of two faction leaders, including a former U.S. Marine who succeeded his father a week ago.

Witnesses said Hussein Mohamed Aidid's militiamen attacked Balad, about 17 miles away, early in the morning with 40 pickup trucks mounted with weapons. There was no immediate word on casualties.

The latest round of fighting made more remote the possibility of reconciliation between the factions of Ali Mahdi Mohammed and Aidid after Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid's death.

After Aidid died Aug. 1, Ali Mahdi and another faction leader, Osman Hassan Ali Atto, wanted to negotiate with the general's faction. But the younger Aidid -- like his father before him -- refused.

It was not possible to ascertain casualty figures from the latest battle.

Balad, with a population of 300,000, has largely escaped factional fighting since the ouster of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, when the country began a slide into anarchy.

Most of Balad's residents support Ali Mahdi, who controls north Mogadishu, while the southern part of the city is being fought over by Aidid and Atto.

The younger Aidid -- a naturalized U.S. citizen -- served with the Marine Corps reserves in the U.S.-led U.N. mission to Somalia in 1992.

=A9 Copyright 1996 The Associated Press