Violence breaks out in Mogadishu. Reuters reports:
A fourth day of fighting between rival militias in Mogadishu on Wednesday saw the death toll rise to at least 94, after gunmen broke a brief ceasefire to the worst street combat in the Somali capital in years.
The latest battle is the third between gunmen allied to Islamic courts and militia linked to the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, a coalition of powerful warlords.
Analysts say the upsurge in street battles between the two sides suggests the failed Horn of Africa state is becoming a new proxy battleground for Islamist militants and the United States, which is widely believed to be funding the warlords.
According to Reuters, the warlords adopted their coalition's name "in what some say was an effort to win support from the United States." Agence France Presse has more on America's involvement:
While not providing arms, the United States has given money to warlords fighting Mogadishu's powerful Islamic courts, which are thought to be harboring extremists including some affiliated with Al-Qaeda, officials said….
"Basically we're paying militias to pick people off," [one U.S.] official said, giving an unusually blunt description of the program, which is coordinated by the US embassy in Kenya.
The embassy in Nairobi refused to comment but senior officials there acknowledged contacts with the warlords while stressing the US outreach was broad and not limited to just them.