Blast shatters Mogadishu lull

Guns have been silent in Mogadishu after four days of battles pitting Ethiopian and Somali troops against anti-government fighters.

Blast shatters Mogadishu lull

Guns have been silent in Mogadishu after four days of battles pittingEthiopian and Somali troops against anti-government fighters.

The lull in battles enabled Mogadishu residents to bury their dead andventure onto the streets for the first time in five days on Monday.

Although one landmine exploded in south Mogadishu as a government convoy passed, thecoastal capital was generally quiet.

The United Nations said 47,000 Somalis have fled Mogadishu in the last 10days, making a total of 96,000 since February.

While the generalised shelling and gunfire seen across thecity in recent days had stopped on Monday, a single blast followed by somegunfire rocked the Kilometre Four area of south Mogadishu around 8am (0500GMT), a Reuters witness said.

Military sources later said a landmine had gone off as aconvoy including the government's chief of military staff was driving past.

But there were no injuries, and it was unclear if it was atargeted attack or a mine left from previous days.

As Somalis stepped cautiously out on to the streets to checkon damage, stock up on food, and see friends or family, some began burying thecorpses virtually where they found them.

Several hundred people arebelieved to have been killed in the fighting.

With rotting bodies still lying in the streets on Monday, itwas impossible to calculate an exact death toll from what the InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross called Mogadishu'sworst fighting in more than 15 years.

Somali reporters have seen scores of corpses, Ethiopiasays it has killed 200 insurgents, and residents say they believe severalhundred people, mainly civilians, have died.

Diplomatic efforts

Diplomatic efforts to halt the violence were being steppedup this week.

The International Contact Group on Somalia, which includesthe United States, European and African nations, was due to meet in Cairo.

While Addis Ababa seems determined tofinish off the rebels, many experts say the attacks could have the oppositeeffect, turning Somalis further against their Christian-led neighbour, ordrawing in foreign Muslim jihadists.

Despite the fighting, Somalia'sinterim government remains confident a reconciliation meeting of elders,politicians and former warlords planned for April 16 will go ahead in the city.

The administration is the 14th attempt to restore centralrule in Somaliasince 1991, when the Horn of Africa nation slid into anarchy after dictatorMohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16