UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SOMALIA: Death toll mounts as fighting in Mogadishu continues
NAIROBI, 13 May 2004 (IRIN) - At least 60 people have died in the latest fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, which has continued to rage for a fourth day, with hundreds wounded, and thousands displaced, local sources told IRIN on Thursday.
One of the bloodiest episodes of fighting in the city in the last few years erupted on Sunday morning after a disagreement between two militias of the same clan who are loyal to two business people. It involved forces guarding a hotel in the northern district of Behani, and those loyal to a local businessman from the Warsangeli clan, which reportedly attacked the hotel, the property of a businesswoman from the Wabudan clan.
The fighting died down on Wednesday afternoon, but "resumed with a vengeance at 07:30 local time [04:30 GMT] today", a local journalist told IRIN on Thursday. "It is now concentrated in the Lido beach area [north Mogadishu]". "There is a fierce battle raging, with both sides using heavy weapons." he added. "It is the most intense since Sunday [when the fighting started]"
When the fighting subsided on Wednesday, the number of wounded in the various hospitals stood at "over 200", said a local doctor involved in compiling the data. Most of the wounded were taken to the privately owned Al-Hayat, Arafaat, Medina and Keysaney hospitals, he said. "Most of those in the hospitals are civilians, mostly women and children," he told IRIN, noting that "more people are probably affected" who never made it to a hospital.
Meanwhile, a Mogadishu-based human rights group has condemned the violence. "We have called on both sides to stop these indiscriminate attacks on unarmed civilians," Marian Awreye, Director, of the Isma'il Human Rights Centre (IHRC] told IRIN. "Those suffering the most are noncombatants."
Another "major problem" was the displacement of thousands of people from their homes: Entire districts in the city had been emptied by the fighting, Marian told IRIN on Thursday. "Behani, Abdul'aziz, Shibis, Shangani and Bondere districts are almost empty. The intensity of the fighting is such that people as far as five to seven kilometres away are leaving their homes because of the danger of stray bullets, mortar bombs and artillery shells," she said.
She said many of the displaced had had to move several times in the last four days. "They run away from one area, the fighting catches up with them, and then they move again." Many of the displaced were still on the move, she noted.
The fighting groups were also perpetrating serious human rights violations against the civilian population, Marian said, stressing that "as usual, no group cares for the protection of the civilian population".
She said the (IHRC) estimated that apart from at least 60 people killed, over 250 had been wounded in the past four days. "We are disappointed at the lack response from the international community," she said. "Someone has to hold these people [fighting groups] accountable for their actions. They have signed ceasefires and repeatedly violated them without penalty."
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