- Title: SOMALIA: Hospitals overwhelmed as fighting continues in Mogadishu
- Date: 1st April 2007
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE)(Somali) INJURED DISABLED MAN, ABDULLAHI AHMED GEDI SAYING: "The mortar hit our house, my wife and my daughter died at the same place and also my brother died immediately from the attack, they used to give me assistance to walk, because I am disabled man and now the other two members of my family are injured."
- Embargoed: 16th April 2007 13:00
- Location: Somalia
- Country: Somalia
- Reuters ID: LVAD83JJERURDCRXV0E2QJFTKMJV
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Scores of civilians have been killed in the latest fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu. The International Committee of the Red Cross says it's the worst fighting seen in the city for more than 15 years.
Ethiopia says its forces have killed more than 200 insurgents since the assault started.
Terrified residents said volleys of artillery rounds began crashing down onto homes hours before dawn on Saturday (March 31).
Hospitals struggled to cope with injured civilians, even though most victims could not reach any kind of help because of the ongoing battles. Doctors were also trapped by the fighting.
At the city's main Madina Hospital, many patients lay on thin mattresses in the yard. Others wailed inside packed wards.
"The mortar hit our house, my wife and my daughter died at the same place and also my brother died immediately from the attack, they used to give me assistance to walk, because I am disabled man and now the other two members of my family are injured," said Abdullahi Ahmed Gedi from the hospital.
Thousands of people have fled the city in recent days, and a Reuters reporter said thousands more took to the streets on foot at first light on Saturday.
As the battles intensified on Friday, insurgents shot down an Ethiopian helicopter gunship with a missile. Ugandan peacekeepers pulled two dead crew members from the wreckage.
Somalia's envoy to Ethiopia told reporters the attacks were only targeting insurgent strongholds where local elders had failed to convince the rebels to disarm.
Many analysts say Addis Ababa seems bent on obliterating the insurgents and their clan militia allies, who have been emboldened by recent strikes including the downing of a plane serving an African peacekeeping mission.
But the experts say it could have the opposite effect of turning Mogadishu's people further against their Christian-led neighbour or drawing in foreign Muslim jihadists.
Despite the fighting, Somalia's interim 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 14th attempt to restore central rule in Somalia since 1991, runs out in 2009, after which in theory there should be elections.
The African Union (AU) has sent 1,200 Ugandan troops to help the government, but they have been attacked. Other African nations are balking at sending more soldiers to bring the AU force to its planned strength of 8,000.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None