From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Dec 05 2008 - 08:49:05 EST
Shelling kills at least 15 in Somalia's capital
Fri 5 Dec 2008, 12:30 GMT
MOGADISHU, Dec 5 (Reuters) - At least 15 people died on Friday when shells hit an insurgent stronghold in the north of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, witnesses said.
Islamist militants have been battling the Western-backed Somali government and its Ethiopian supporters since early 2007 and now control the south of the Horn of Africa nation.
Some 10,000 civilians have died in the fighting, a million people have been driven from their homes and 3 million rely on emergency food aid.
Residents said they believed the shells were fired by Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu targeting an Islamist base on the edge of a livestock market in the northern area.
"A shell landed in the market killing five women and two men," said resident Omar Mohamed. "We are shocked and collecting their scattered flesh. I could see 10 injured people."
Another resident, Halima Bare, said two mortar shells killed four people and a baby in a restaurant and that she saw three more bodies at a bus stop.
The Islamists said they had not been fighting the Ethiopians on Friday. There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopians.
"We have great sympathy for the innocent civilians who are being killed," said Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, spokesman for the Islamic Courts, which were driven from the capital two years ago by Somali and Ethiopian forces.
Ethiopia said last month it would pull all its troops out of Somalia by the end of the year and there are fears the already chaotic country could descend further into anarchy unless more peacekeepers are sent soon. (Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Abdi Guled; editing by David Clarke)
© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.
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