At least 50 people have died and thousands have fled after three days of heavy fighting in the Somali port town of Kismayo, a local elder said Friday, dpa reported.
"Many people have died - up to now we heard more than 50, but the death toll may increase," Ibrahim Ali, an elder in Kismayo, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by telephone.
Over a hundred people were also injured as fighters loyal to Islamic insurgent group al-Shabaab battled a local clan for control of the strategic port, which lies around 500 kilometres south of Mogadishu.
The clashes had ceased by Friday afternoon and al-Shabaab was said to have forced out the clan that previously controlled the town.
"The Islamic Courts and al-Shabaab control Kismayo," clan elder Abdi Bashi told Mogadishu-based Radio Garowe.
Al-Shabaab, the armed wing of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), has been waging a guerrilla war since Ethiopian troops helped the government oust the UIC in late 2006.
According to Garowe, fighting first broke out on Wednesday after a landmine targeted local clan militia.
Garowe said that bodies were lying in the streets and that businesses remained closed as fighting raging throughout the town throughout the three days of violence.
The interim government has been unable to achieve stability in the Horn of Africa country, which has been plagued by chaos and clan- based civil war since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.