Somalia: civilians under fire in Mogadishu

Hundreds of insurgents armed with rocket launchers, artillery and machine guns are clashing with Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu. Ethiopian tanks patrol the streets, and the southern part of Mogadishu has become a no-go zone. BBC reports that Ethiopian helicopter gunships fired on a public market when insurgent tried to take shelter there.

Dozens of injured civilians are stranded, as heavy fighting has grounded public transport and other business activity in the Somali capital. Due to chaos in the streets, no reliable casualty figure for civilians is available. The local Shabelle Media Network, has posted photos of mutilated corpses being dragged through the streets, and reports 15 Ethiopian troops killed March 29.

The new fighting breaks a ceasefire declared a week ago, brokered by elders form the Hawiye clan – the biggest in Mogadishu. The UN estimates that 40,000 people have fled Mogadishu since February, when new fighting ended a six-month lull in violence under the rule of the Islamic Courts Union. (BBC, Shabelle, March 29)

See our last post on Somalia and the Horn of Africa.