MOGADISHU, Somalia — Pro-government militia regained control of Mogadishu's abandoned seaport Saturday after 40 people, including 21 civilians, were killed in a gun battle between forces loyal to a faction leader and gunmen normally in charge of the area.
About 100 other people, including prominent commanders in the pro-government forces, were wounded in the 15-hour battle.
The worst fighting in several years in Somalia's battered capital underscored the tenuous hold on power of the year-old transitional government in a city still carved up among clan-based faction leaders.
Faction leader Hussein Mohammed Aidid's forces gained the upper hand in the battle with the Suleiman clan militia after being attacked when they arrived at the port Friday for a meeting, said Information Minister Zakaria Mohamud Haji Abdi.
But Aidid's men later agreed to withdraw to their nearby headquarters and to leave the pro-government militia in control, he said.
The official said the Suleiman forces that fought Aidid's men, although normally allied with the government, had been fighting on their own in the battle that began Friday afternoon.
Another pro-government militia moved into the port after safe passage out had been negotiated for Aidid and his men.