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Battles kill 23 in Somali capital as violence grows

An Islamist fighter took a position yesterday during clashes with Somali government soldiers. An Islamist fighter took a position yesterday during clashes with Somali government soldiers. (Farah Abdi Warsameh/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / October 5, 2010

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — An increase in violence has killed at least 23 civilians in the past three days in Mogadishu, officials said yesterday.

Almost 90 people have been wounded.

Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, said five of the deaths occurred yesterday. Two women, a boy, and two men were killed by stray bullets from fighting between progovernment forces and Islamist militants.

Militants in the Horn of Africa nation have been trying to topple a UN-backed government for more than three years.

Somalia has not had a functioning government in 19 years.

Ambulance drivers risk their lives to save people hit by the mortar fire, artillery shells, and random gunfire.

In 2009, two drivers were killed — one when a mortar round landed on an ambulance and a second when another ambulance was hit by tank fire.

The city lurches between quiet periods, when shoppers fill markets, to heavy warfare, where no place is entirely safe.

Somalia is ranked among the worst performers in national governance in Africa by the London-based Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Zimbabwe and Chad are among the others.

Overall, security has deteriorated in Africa over the past five years, according to the index.

South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy, scored fifth overall in government performance but ranked 44th of 53 African countries in personal safety.

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