New Somali Police Battle Militiamen

From Associated Press

Somalia's new police battled factional militiamen opposed to the nation's transitional government, leaving five people dead Thursday, the force's second day on the job.

More than 20 people, most of them civilians, were wounded in the fighting in south Mogadishu between faction leader Hussein Mohammed Aidid's militia and the government's police force, witnesses said.

The government deployed the new 2,000-member police force Wednesday, marking the first time police have asserted control over Somalia's capital in 10 years.

The step was the most significant show of force since the current government was formed in August, when 245 Somali legislators meeting in neighboring Djibouti elected Abdiqassim Salad Hassan president.

On Thursday, Aidid accused the police of attacking his headquarters while he and other faction leaders were meeting with Ethiopian officials to discuss peace talks.

"Lots of people have lost their lives in this attack," Aidid said. "This attack against our supporters is a clear indication of the government's real motives, which [are] to destroy all the opposition parties and subjugate the Somali people."

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