Rival clans battled each other with mortars, machine guns and light arms near Mogadishu’s airport Sunday in a possible preview of Somalia’s future after the departure of U.N. peacekeepers.
With an American-led military coalition poised offshore, the fighting also offered a taste of what U.S. and Italian marines might face in coming days as they guard the withdrawal of the last U.N. soldiers.
“This is a prelude,” said Army Staff Sgt. Matt Mutarelli of Philadelphia, who came to Mogadishu with other special forces soldiers on Feb. 8. “We’ve been expecting this.”
About 50 U.S. Army special forces soldiers already are ashore to help the remaining Pakistani and Bangladeshi troops complete preparations to leave under the coalition shield.
The fighting forced the military to cancel a scheduled rehearsal of the retreat Sunday.