Ethiopian Troops fire on Mogadishu march
Mogadishu - Ethiopian forces opened fire on demonstrators protesting
against their presence in Mogadishu on Sunday, killing three,
witnesses said, as fresh violence engulfed the Somali capital.
A crowd of hundreds of protesters chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is
great) and wielding sticks had been marching in the streets of
southern Mogadishu in reaction to the latest Ethiopian crackdown on
the insurgency when the deaths occurred.
"A young boy and two other civilians died when Ethiopian forces in
Suqaholaha area opened fire on us. We were demonstrating against them
and they opened fire to disperse the crowd," witness Hussein Adan
Suley told reporters.
"We ran away when the Ethiopians opened fire. I know that one child
was killed," said another protester, Asma Wardhere.
There was no immediate confirmation of the casualty toll from medical
sources following the demonstration, the first to be staged by
disgruntled Mogadishu residents in several months.
But a police official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed
that three people had died during the demonstration, and added that
two other people had been killed on Sunday in separate incidents.
One man was shot dead in the volatile Bakara market area. Relatives
said the motives of the killing were not known.
Police also said that one of their members was killed but declined to
reveal the location and circumstances of the incident.
Demonstrators also razed a police station on Sunday, the second to be
burnt down in southern Mogadishu in two days, after terrified police
fled, the city's mayor Mohamed Omar Habeb told a press conference.
"They burnt down the second police station today," he told a press
conference. Habeb vowed to crack down on the insurgents whose attacks
have convulsed Mogadishu.
For the second day, violence pitting Ethiopian and Somali forces
against Islamist insurgents rocked the city in broad daylight.
On Saturday, Ethiopian troops fanned out into the streets following
fighting near the stadium that left at least six civilians dead.
The latest clashes prompted a fresh wave of displacement, as civilians
could be seen across entire neighbourhoods loading pick-up trucks and
donkey carts with household items.
"No one can endure what is happening in Mogadishu, it's non-stop
violence and it's taking hundreds of lives every week," said southern
Mogadishu resident Abdurahman Nure, speaking to reporters from the
back of a Land Cruiser as he left the city with his children.
The Ethiopian army came to the rescue of Somalia's embattled
government last year to defeat fundamentalist Islamist militia that
briefly controlled large parts of the country.
Since the Islamist movement was ousted earlier this year, its militia
and allied tribal fighters have waged a guerrilla-style war, carrying
out hit-and-run attacks, mainly by night and in Mogadishu.
"The insurgents are attacking the government and Ethiopian forces
almost everyday now," said Fartun Adan Mohamed, a single mother, as
she left the city with her three children.
"Whenever this happens, we civilians are the target for the Ethiopian
army as well as the Somali forces, so fleeing is the only option we
have," she said.
Residents are saying that daytime fighting is making the city even
more dangerous for civilians than it was before.
Mogadishu residents have been fleeing the city in several major waves
in recent months, arriving in droves in neighbouring towns already
plagued by dire food shortages.
While the capital was engulfed in violence, the country's transitional
government was also on the brink of disintegration.
In the town of Baidoa, about 250km from Mogadishu, President Abdullahi
Ahmed Yusuf was pushing parliament to oust Prime Minister Ali Mohamed
The two leaders are from the country's two main and rival tribes and
the president accuses his premier of failing to bring an end to the
Saudi King Abdullah, a key broker in Somali politics, has invited top
leaders in a bid to reconcile them and press on with rebuilding the
Somalia has lacked a functional government since the 1991 ousting of
dictator Mohamed Siad Barre which set off a deadly power struggle that
has defied at least a dozen peace initiatives.
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