MOGADISHU (AFP) — Fresh fighting erupted in the Somali capital Saturday, where Islamist-led insurgents reportedly killed a civilian and Ethiopia deployed more troops amid mounting humanitarian concerns.
Witnesses said the fighting took place in southern Mogadishu's Tarbunka area, one of the most volatile zones in the seaside capital.
"A stray bullet hit a man who was fleeing to his house. He died on the spot," said resident Mohamed Sakaria. Several other witnesses confirmed the killing.
Meanwhile, dozens of Ethiopian trucks entered Mogadishu Saturday, according to first-hand and local accounts.
"I have counted about 55 military trucks and four tanks" heading into the capital, said area resident Mohamed Sheik Hassan.
An AFP correspondent also saw 25 trucks enter the city's southern region, while a witness who requested anonymity said he counted more than 60 Ethiopian trucks and six tanks.
Still another witness, Farah Mohamed, said some of the Ethiopian troops appeared to be heading to northern Mogadishu where Ethiopian soldiers were killed in an artillery duel Friday.
Ethiopian officials would not confirm the troop movements, which took place a day after the bodies of three Ethiopian soldiers were paraded in the city -- an event chillingly similar to 1993, when the torn bodies of US special forces were similarly paraded.
Shabab, the radical armed wing of the main Somali Islamist movement, also displayed Friday the bodies of Ethiopian troops they had killed in northern Mogadishu.
For their part, elders from the city's dominant Hawiye clan urged the international community to stop the Ethiopian reinforcements, warning in a statement of "disastrous" consequences.
Ethiopian troops have been venturing deeper into the streets of Islamist bastions in recent days in a bid to break the back of an insurgency that has plagued efforts to stabilise the transitional government for months.
The Ethiopian army came to the rescue of the embattled Somali government last year to oust an Islamist militia that briefly controlled large parts of the country and sought to impose Islamic law.
The Islamic Courts Union was swiftly defeated earlier this year, but its remnants and allied tribes have since waged a guerrilla war against their enemies.
However, the heavy-handed crackdown on the insurgents has also angered many in Mogadishu. Three civilians were killed late last month when Ethiopian troops opened fire on demonstrators protesting against their presence.
The UN refugee agency has said up to 90,000 civilians were displaced during the fighting in Mogadishu, which was "the worst in months."
The fighting is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation which has left 1.5 million -- almost one sixth of the population -- in need of help.
Some 40 aid groups warn of an "unfolding humanitarian catastrophe" in parts of Somalia and said they could no longer meet the country's growing relief needs.
Bloody clan brawls following the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre escalated into a civil war which continues to defy every peace initiative.
Washington fears the shattered east African nation may become a haven for extremists linked to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.
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