Somalia’s Capital Covered With Corpses
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‘Slow genocide’ in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu
by Mohamed Olad Hassan
People watching a tank in a Mogadishu street The African Union force has deployed tanks in the streets to try to halt the insurgents’ advance
The sound of gunfire echoes through almost every street in Mogadishu.
Residential areas frequently come under heavy, indiscriminate shelling, corpses litter the alleyways, and neither side seems to be gaining the upper hand.
For the past two weeks, Somalia’s once-beautiful capital has been the scene of fierce fighting between African Union-backed government forces and Islamist militants.
“This city is proving to be more dangerous than at any other time I can remember,” says resident Jamilo Cilmi. “I have decided to leave for the safety of my children.”
The new wave of violence flared after dozens of people, including six MPs, were killed in a suicide attack on a hotel. The main Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, which controls much of southern and central Somalia, said it had carried out the attack.
The insurgents stepped up their offensive as they attempted to gain control of the presidential palace and a strategically important road linking the hilltop compound in the city centre to the airport to the west.
The African Union force in Somalia (Amisom), which is backing the government forces, has deployed several tanks on the streets in a bid to halt the advance, but the battle is ongoing and the death toll is mounting.
More than 230 people have so far been killed in the clashes, while hospitals in the city have been overwhelmed by the hundreds of injured.
Omar Abdullahi says rotting bodies are piling up in the southern Hodan district, because the fighting has been too intense to collect them.
“Everywhere has turned into a cemetery,” he adds.
‘Nowhere is safe’
Two thirds of the city’s estimated 1.5 million residents have already fled, mostly to makeshift camps on the outskirts.
But this leaves some 500,000 people still braving the fighting. – More here