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CLAN FIGHTING DELAYS START OF PEACE TALKS

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The start of preliminary peace talks among Somalia's warring factions was delayed Tuesday by a new outbreak of fighting near the southern port of Kismayu.

In the latest incident, a U.S. helicopter gunship fired on a Somali vehicle that military officials said was advancing on Belgian troops on Monday near Kismayu, where clans continue to fight.Nine Somalis were reported killed in the fighting, including two found in the destroyed vehicle, said Marine Chief Warrant Officer Virginia Bueno.

The developments came as U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said he and U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali agreed it was time for a United Nations force to replace the Americans in Somalia.

The Somali factions' talks were to have begun in Mogadishu on Monday but were delayed by objections from Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid, one of the country's warlords, a U.N. spokesman said.