Shelling continues in Mogadishu

Mortar rounds have crashed into central Mogadishu as battles between anti-government fighters and Ethiopian troops killed scores of civilians.

Shelling continues in Mogadishu

Mortarrounds have crashed into central Mogadishuas battles between anti-government fighters and Ethiopian troops killed scoresof civilians.

Localsliving near the main football stadium said on Sunday that mortars fired fromthe capital's south started striking around 9:30am (06:30 GMT).


TheInternational Committee of the Red Cross says the fighting is Mogadishu's worst for more than 15 years.

Aresident of Tawfiq neighbourhood said: "We are now being shelled heavily.The mortars are being fired from south Mogadishu.People are very scared."


On Thursday, Ethiopian troops backed by tanks andhelicopters launched the assault to crush armed groups opposing Somalia's weak interim government in Mogadishu.

Crossfire casualties

The armed groups, made up of the remnantsof the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) movement that was ousted from the citylast year, as well as a number of clan militias fighting alongside them, havefired mortars from inside residential areas.

Ethiopian troops have used heavy artilleryto shell the fighters' positions inside those areas.

However, civilians caught in thecrossfire have been the main victims. Hospitals have been overwhelmed, but mostvictims have been unable to seek any kind of help because of the ongoingclashes.

Doctors were also trapped in their homes by theviolence and thousands of people have fled Mogadishuin recent days.

Corpses remained on the streets as ongoingfighting and mortar fire made it difficult to retrieve bodies or tally thedead. An Agence France Presse (AFP) correspondent on Sundaysaw the bodies of at least six civilians lying in the street.

Residents said hundreds were believed tohave been killed across the city of one million people.

AFP quoted Ibrahim Duale, a resident inthe southern Ali Kamin area, as saying: "We don't know where to go.We are trapped in our houses and dead bodies are lying in the street."

"There is no chance of taking thewounded and dead people because of the heavy artillery and anti-aircraftweapons."

Clan truce

The fighting shattered a brief and shaky truce betweenthe Ethiopians and leaders of the city's dominant clan, the Hawiye.

Security sources said African Union (AU) officialswere pushing for more talks between the two sides to reinstate that ceasefire,but were facing massive mutual mistrust.

Talking to Shabelle, an independent Somalibroadcaster, a Hawiye spokesman called on the United Nations, United States, EuropeanUnion and Arab League to urge Ethiopiato stop attacking.

"Whatis happening in the city is total carnage against the civilians," he wasquoted as saying on their Web site on Sunday.

While Addis Ababa seems determined to crushremaining fighters, some analysts say the offensive could have the oppositeeffect of turning Somalis further against their predominantly Christian neighbour,or drawing in foreign Muslim fighters.

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 mandate for the administration, which is the 14thattempt to restore central rule in Somalia since 1991, runs out in 2009, afterwhich, in theory, there should be elections.

Peacekeeper killed

A Ugandan soldier was killed by artillery in Mogadishuin the first death reported by African peacekeepers in the Somali capital, aspokesman said on Sunday.

Major Felix Kulayigye, a Ugandan military spokesman,told Reuters: "Our troops were guarding the presidential compound onSaturday when it was struck by mortars. One of our soldiers was killed."

The AU has sent 1,200 Ugandan troops to help thegovernment, but they have been attacked by the armed groups. Other Africannations are baulking at sending more peacekeepers to boost the AU force to itsplanned strength of 8,000.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16