22 March 2007

Another from Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) -- Somali insurgents dragged soldiers' bodies through the streets of Mogadishu before burning them on Wednesday in heavy fighting that killed at least 16 people and injured scores more, witnesses said.

The corpses of five soldiers -- either from the Somali government army or their Ethiopian allies -- were desecrated during some of the worst clashes in the lawless capital since the interim government took over in December, witnesses said.

In one place, men dragged two semi-naked corpses by the feet while members of a crowd chanting "God is Great" kicked and pelted them with stones, a Reuters reporter said. (Watch a soldier's body being dragged through the street, as civilian casualties also mount )

Scene similar to aftermath of Black Hawk downing

In another, three bodies were hauled round by rope, kicked and then also set alight, witnesses said.

The grisly scenes recalled the aftermath of the 1993 shooting-down of a Black Hawk helicopter by Somali militiamen during a failed U.S. operation to hunt down warlords.

Images of dead American troops being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu were the beginning of the end for a U.S.-U.N. peacekeeping force which quit Somalia in 1995.

As well as the five soldiers, witnesses and medical sources said at least 11 civilians died in Wednesday's clashes.

The fighting, which wounded at least 81 people according to hospital staff, began early in the day when insurgents fired at Ethiopian and government forces in tanks parked at the Ministry of Defense, residents said.

When the tanks moved out to defend their position, fighting escalated because Islamist sympathizers and clans feared they were about to be targeted in a forced disarmament drive.

Two new fighting fronts then opened up in the afternoon.

No comments: