Somali faction leader Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed has died, his radio station reported today.

The radio, broadcasting from the southern half of Mogadishu that his faction controls, said Aideed died of a heart attack Thursday and would be buried in the Somali capital today.

Aideed, 62, the main faction leader in Somalia, was the target of an unsuccessful manhunt by U.S. troops during a U.N. peacekeeping mission to Somalia in 1993; 18 U.S. soldiers were killed during an attack on his stronghold.

On Saturday, sources close to Aideed confirmed he had been hit by a stray bullet above the kidney on July 25, but they said was treated at a Mogadishu hospital and released. BBC World Radio on Thursday quoted several sources as saying Aideed had died of wounds sustained during recent fighting. It quoted an unidentified senior aide speaking from Washington as saying he was officially told Aideed had died during surgery.

Somalia has been without a true government since 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted and rival factions began fighting for control. Aideed's faction controls roughly half of south Mogadishu. The other half is controlled by forces loyal to his former financier, Osman Hassan Ali. The two militias have been fighting since March.

Aideed's radio station, Radio South Mogadishu, said a four-member committee had been appointed to head Aideed's faction. The radio read a statement, apparently from the committee, calling on Aideed's militiamen to "remain watchful and defend their rights."

During Siad Barre's 21-year dictatorship, Aideed, an Italian-trained general, served in the army, cabinet and as Somalia's ambassador to India. Aideed's supporters drove Siad Barre from Mogadishu in January 1991.

Shortly after, two factions -- one led by wealthy businessman Ali Mahdi Mohamed and the other by Aideed, both self-declared presidents -- began fighting for control of Mogadishu and Somalia.

More than 350,000 Somalis died from the fighting, as well as famine, and in September 1992, the U.N. Security Council approved sending 3,000 peacekeepers to protect aid workers.

The United Nations blamed Aideed for ambushes that killed 23 U.N. soldiers and wounded 59 others on June 5, 1993. While Aideed repeatedly denied responsibility for the attack, he accused the U.N. forces of favoring his rivals.

In October 1993, 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in Mogadishu while hunting Aideed, prompting President Clinton to speed withdrawal of U.S. forces. The final U.N. contingent pulled out of Somalia in March 1995.