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Somali president says rebels work for foreign govts
* Ahmed urges insurgents to stop fighting
* Police and military units clash in Mogadishu
By Abdi Sheikh
MOGADISHU, May 11 (Reuters) - Somalia's president accused Islamist insurgents on Monday of working for foreign governments trying to destabilise his Horn of Africa nation after four days of fighting killed at least 70 people.
The country's power vacuum after 18 years without central rule has long worried players in the region and beyond.
Some of them are concerned about local rebels and terrorist networks, while others jockey for regional domination and some are exploiting the economic opportunities of a failed state.
"We have an Islamic government, but misled Somalis kill innocent people. These guys work for foreign countries that do not want us to be a peaceful nation," President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed told reporters in Mogadishu.
"I tell them to stop fighting. It is illegal to shed the blood of your innocent brothers."
Ahmed -- himself a former Islamist rebel -- did not name any countries, but U.N. reports have accused Eritrea, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Arab states of violating an arms embargo on the country.
Somalia's battered capital endured some of the heaviest fighting for months over the weekend as hardline al Shabaab Islamist rebels battled pro-government Islamist militia.
On Monday, sporadic explosions and gunfire rocked some northern districts of the city, and six soldiers died when police fought with troops trying to help some of the insurgents.
"We captured several sacks of weapons that some military men were secretly transporting to the opposition," one policeman, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
"They attacked us and we chased them ... six of their dead bodies lie here. These government soldiers had not been paid, so they sell their government weapons to the opposition groups."
"GIVE THE GOVT A HAND"
The United States says Shabaab has close ties to al Qaeda and that some of its leaders trained in Afghanistan.
One Somali elder said many Arabs took part in the weekend's clashes, but no independent confirmation was available.
Ahmed's administration is the latest attempt to restore central rule since 1991 when strongman Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled by warlords, who then turned on each other.
Since then, various factions have tried to seize power in one of the world's most dangerous nations, hobbling more than a dozen attempts to reconstitute the government.
Many diplomats see Ahmed, who once headed the Eritrea-based Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, an opposition group, as the best hope in years to restore stability.
Speaking at his white-washed hilltop presidential palace, Ahmed called for help: "We urge Somalis to give us a hand in sustaining the existence of our government."
Ahmed led the Islamic Courts Union in 2006 which controlled Mogadishu and much of the south and brought a level of relative security that the country had not seen in years.
But Ethiopian troops and tanks crushed that movement in December 2006. An insurgency has raged since, killing more than 16,000 people and forcing a million more from their homes. (Additional reporting by Abdi Guled and Reuters TV; Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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