Somali Opposition Cordons off Parts of the Capital as Political Feud Turns Violent
By Staff, Agencies
Heavily armed Somali opposition fighters held positions in parts of the capital Mogadishu on Monday, a day after clashes with government troops erupted over Somali president's bid to extend his mandate, in the country's worst political violence in years.
Fighters used mounds of earth to barricade roads, while armed men and vehicles mounted with machine guns were stationed in opposition strongholds after the fighting that left three dead.
"Both the Somali security forces and the pro-opposition fighters have taken positions along some key roads," witness Abdullahi Mire told AFP.
The fragile nation has not had an effective central government since the collapse of a military regime in 1991 led to decades of civil war and lawlessness fuelled by clan conflicts.
For more than a decade, conflict has centered on an extremist insurgency by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab.
The political clashes in the streets of Mogadishu mark a dangerous new phase in a dispute triggered by the failure to hold February's planned elections.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, best known by his nickname Farmajo, earlier this month signed a law approved by parliament that extended his mandate by two years.
On Sunday night, sporadic bursts of heavy gunfire rang out across the capital after fighting broke out between government forces and soldiers allied along clan lines to various opposition leaders.
Three people -- two police officers and one opposition fighter -- were killed in the clashes, police said Monday.
Tensions remained high, with soldiers supporting the opposition vowing to remove the president by force.