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    At least ten people have been murdered in a confrontation between opposing armed factions in the Somali town of Elbarde.

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    According to local residents, a gunfire erupted in Elbarde town in Bakool area, near the Somali border with Ethiopia, on Wednesday, killing at least ten people and injuring an unknown number.

    Armed conflict erupted between Darwish forces and military units divided along clan lines. Darwish, primarily from Rahanweyn, is a police force trained and equipped by the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations in a joint police programme, whereas the military in Elbarde is made up of ethnic Ogaden and trained by Ethiopia.

    When a soldier from the Darwish army was shot by military forces, the battle erupted dramatically. Combatants from both sides, as well as innocent people caught in the crossfire, have been killed in this violent struggle.

    Fearful of the violence, citizens are fleeing the region in search of safety elsewhere. Online footage have emerged that show the bodies of fallen soldiers sprawled over the streets.

    Elbarde’s tensions had recently risen as local clan elders rejected a newly designated government by the Southwest authorities in Baidoa. Elbarde has been a source of contention between the Ogaden and Rahanweyn ethnic groups.

    The military or Southwest authorities have made no formal pronouncements about the violent confrontation in Elbarde or the underlying causes that led to its eruption.

    Since the entry of government forces and allied Ethiopian forces into Ebarde town in 2018, inhabitants have been subjected to significant humanitarian challenges as a result of a prolonged siege imposed by the al-Shabaab rebel group.

    Wednesday’s incident comes on the heels of a similar outbreak of violence in Barawe, located in the Lower Shabelle region, where Hawiye-dominated military troops clashed with Rahanweyn Darwish forces from the Southwest, resulting in casualties and property loss.

    Elbarde is the fourth occurrence of ethnic fighting in Southwest Somalia, following hostilities in Marka, Yaaqbiriweyne, and the most recent conflict in Barawe.

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