Scores killed in Mogadishu clashes

Other News Materials 20 April 2008 22:28 (UTC +04:00)

(aljazeera) - At least 81 people have been killed in the Somali capital over the weekend as fighters opposed to the transitional government clashed with Somali and Ethiopian troops, according to a human rights group.
The two sides exchanged mortar fire on Sunday, in what residents of the city said was some of the heaviest fighting in months.

Sudan Ali Ahmed, chairman of Elman Human Rights, said: "The casualties ... were caused by Ethiopians using heavy artillery and tank shells in residential areas of the war-torn capital. We condemn this latest fighting."

He said that 119 people had been wounded since fighting began on Saturday.

Elman reaches its figures by tracking fatalities through hospitals and mortuaries.
Mohamed Ali, a journalist in Mogadishu, told Al Jazeera that the fighting had spread across the city, growing in intensity throughout the day.

"Sporadic gunfire can be heard from across almost the entire city," he said.
Civilian casualties
Health workers said that civilians appeared to have borne the brunt of the violence with scores of wounded patients being treated at hospitals across the city.
Husein Gutale, director of Mogadishu's Deynile hospital, said: "So far, we received 51 civilians with injuries and two of them died, a woman and a young boy."

Another medical worker told the Reuter news agency: "A mortar shell landed on a house just behind SOS [Save Our Souls] hospital, killing an old man and seriously wounding his wife along with her three children.
"As we were running to help this family, we saw an unidentified dead man lying on the ground."
Sunday's fighting broke out in streets still littered with the uncollected bodies of the victims from Saturday's violence.
One witness said he saw the bodies of four men near the main livestock market, but said that no one had dared to take the bodies away "because the whole place is under Ethiopian siege".
Violence 'confronted'
Nur Hassan Husein, prime minister in the interim government, defended the actions of his troops and the Ethiopian military.
"The government is sorry about the fighting and loss of innocent civilian lives," he told a news conference on Sunday.
"We call for peace and are striving towards it, but it is necessary to confront with war anyone that favours violence."
Ethiopian troops helped the Somali military force the Islamic courts union movement out of the capital and much of the south of the country in late 2006. They have been deployed there ever since.
Residents have continued to flee the city as the government has struggled to impose its authority amid near daily attacks by Islamist fighters and local clans.
Up to 68,000 people are believed to have left since the beginning of the year.