Monday, April 23, 2007

[wvns] Fighting Rocks Mogadishu

Fighting Rocks Mogadishu Anew
Fri. Apr. 20, 2007 & News Agencies

Islamic Courts fighters take positions in Bakara neighborhood near
the government military base in Mogadishu. (Reuters)

MOGADISHU — Ethiopian forces battled Islamic Courts fighters with
mortar bombs and machine guns in the Somali capital Friday, April
20, as the United Nations warned of a humanitarian catastrophe with
corpses left rotting in the streets.
"Ethiopian forces are bombing down civilian sites, places where
there are no fighters. This morning, they have shelled places some
15 kilometres away (from the city), and people are fleeing again,"
Hussein Said Korgab, the spokesman for Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye
clan, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

At least 37 civilians have been killed and 200 wounded in three days
of fighting that erupted Tuesday, with a lull the following day, but
which was shattered Thursday, April 19.

"I can tell you that more than 30 people have been killed in two
days of fighting. The number of wounded people is about 200," Korgab
told AFP.

Seven civilians were killed Tuesday.

More Ethiopian troops moved into Mogadishu to reinforce their
colleagues a day after a bomber attacked their base south of the

Humanitarian Crisis

The worsening situation in Mogadishu has led UN humanitarian
officials to warn of a looming disaster.

"Unless something is done, the humanitarian crisis is going to turn
into a catastrophe very soon," said Eric Laroche, the UN's
humanitarian coordinator in Somalia.

The UN said Somali government forces were blocking relief supplies
and that UN aircraft were being shot at.

In Mogadishu, bodies were left lying in the streets, while a cholera
or diarrhoea epidemic was taking hold and new flooding was likely
soon, it added.

"I live with my children under a tree now and there are a lot of
people living like this," Muna Ali Nur, a mother-of-four, told AFP
from a camp in Elesha.

Tensions in Somalia have risen again since Ethiopian forces helped
the transitional government to oust Islamic Courts from Mogadishu in

The Courts, who ousted on their part a US-backed alliance of
warlords last summer, have vowed to wage a prolonged guerrilla war
against the Ethiopians and the capital is in the grips of fierce
fighting, touching off an exodus of civilians.

Some 213,000 people have fled Mogadishu in the past two months, the
UN refugee agency said Friday.

Four days of fighting late last month saw the worst violence in
Mogadishu for 15 years and efforts to agree a lasting ceasefire have
been dogged by clashes.

Somalia has lacked an effective government since the ousting of
president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991triggered a power struggle that
exploded into inter-clan warfare.



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