Somalia's clash death toll now over 100

Mogadishu - At least 22 people were killed in fighting around Somalia's main port on Saturday, witnesses said on Sunday, taking the death toll to more than 100 in the latest bout of factional clashes in the lawless country.

Fighting has raged for several days near the private El Maan port 35km north of the capital Mogadishu and local radio reports said thousands of people had been forced to leave their homes to escape heavy mortar and gunfire.

Eyewitnesses told Reuters at least 22 people were killed on Saturday as rival factions loyal to leading warlord Muse Sudi Yalahow and businessman Bashir Raghe battled for control of the port area and a nearby hotel.

Raghe's militia seized the Hotel Global by the end of Saturday. The area was calmer on Sunday with the sound of only a few sporadic gunshots coming from around the port.

El Maan, Somalia's main maritime port since the official harbour was closed in 1995, is owned by Raghe's cousin Mohamud Omar Adan and Raghe heads the port's export department.

Hospital doctors said at least 38 wounded were brought in on Saturday, including a child hit in the head by a stray bullet.

More than 100 people have been killed in a three-week upsurge of fighting in the Horn of Africa country.

United Nations officials said at least 60 people were killed and around 200 wounded in mid-May in parts of southern Somalia and Mogadishu in the heaviest fighting in several months.

The country of seven million collapsed into lawlessness with the 1991 overthrow of military ruler Mohammed Siad Barre, and an 18-month-old process aimed at restoring central government and reach peace has failed to yield much change on the ground.

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