The clashes began on Friday when supporters of Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam, alias Sheikh Madobe, tried to block his rival Iftin Hassan Baasto from meeting Somalia’s Defence minister who was visiting Kismayu.
Residents said they were forced to hide indoors over the weekend as fighters in pick-up trucks fitted with machine guns battled for territorial control.
Businesses remained shut, with the streets of Somalia’s second biggest city deserted.
The two leaders, Sheikh Madobe and Mr Hassan, have declared themselves the presidents of the recently-established Jubaland state.
A local assembly last month declared Sheikh Madobe president of the southern Jubaland region, handing him back control of Kismayu.
However, a few hours later, Mr Hassan also declared himself president of the southern Jubaland region, setting the stage for the renewed clashes.
Residents said at least 17 people have been killed in gun battles between supporters of the two militia leaders since Friday — seven on Friday and 10 on Saturday. Al-Shabaab claimed on Twitter that four of those killed are African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) soldiers.
However, when contacted, Amisom spokesman Col Ali Eden Houmed, said their reports indicate that 10 fighters from both sides of the feuding militia had been killed.
“I don’t have any information about casualties on our side,” said Col Houmed, adding that he was waiting for an update from his team in Kismayu.
Kenya Defence Force spokesman, Col Cyrus Oguna, also ruled out the possibility of casualties on the Amisom side. “I don’t think that is true. Let me contact those in Kismayu first,” he said.
Source: Daily Nation – Kenya
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