Clashes erupted in the central Somali town of Galkayo between two rival federal state forces on Sunday, killing 24 people and injuring 50 others, medical sources and eye witnesses said.
The sources said mortar shelling and intense gunfire could be heard across Galkayo as there was heavy fighting between Galmudug and Puntland forces despite a peace deal brokered by Dubai and signed on November 1.
Eighteen of those killed were soldiers, they said.
Galkayo is currently divided into two districts, with Galmudug state governing the southern district and Puntland state controlling the northern one.
Puntland’s Galkayo governor Hassan Khalif confirmed the deaths and injuries and said the fighting was still going on.
“There are several casualties including deaths and injuries. We don’t count the casualties as the fighting is still going on, but I can say Galmudug is not ready for peace it brokered early this week,” Khalif said.
The governor added that his administration was ready for peaceful talks to end the hostilities. He suggested dialogue should begin from grassroots and not only from higher authorities.
Galmudug’s Galkayo governor Hirsi Yusuf said their forces were attacked by Puntland troops on Sunday morning and accused Puntland of violating the peace agreement.
Galkayo has been plagued by recurrent clashes between the two neighboring states which are said to be fighting for control of the town.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says fighting between the rival forces killed at least 23 people and displaced more than 80,000 others between Oct. 7 and 31.
The OCHA said while a peace agreement was reached on Nov. 1, fighting broke out again on Nov. 2.
The rival states are scheduled to hold further talks to implement the agreement on November 20.