At least 80 Somalis have been killed in heavy fighting in the capital Mogadishu within the past 48 hours.

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Mogadishu Somalia

 Halkaan ka akhri

At least 80 Somalis have been killed in heavy fighting in the capital within the past 48 hours, witnesses and doctors said Saturday.

A day after heavy shelling and gunfire claimed over 50 lives, residents said new bodies were discovered on Saturday morning in southern Mogadishu, where Ethiopian troops backing the shaky Somali government have been fighting Islamic insurgents for two days.

”A pregnant woman and an old man were included in the dead and some of them were fresh and seemed to have been killed last night,” said resident Ali Shakur Mohamed. ”The scene was horrific.”

The fighting is some of the heaviest the war-ravaged city has seen since April. Hospitals are overflowing with patients and doctors say they lack medicine, beds and space for the wounded.

”The patients are overwhelming us,” said Dr Dahir Dhere, the head of the Medina Hospital.

Those wounded during the fighting were admitted at the city’s three main medical centers, doctors and staff in Medina, Keysaney and Deynile hospitals told the Associated Press by telephone.”

The death toll continues to mount and more than 250 people – mainly civilians – who were wounded in the fighting and the subsequent shelling are being treated at the hospitals,” said Dr Hassan Gutale.

Islamic insurgents

The fighting was sparked when Ethiopian troops began patrols two days ago in a southern Mogadishu neighborhood seen as a hotbed of support for the Islamic insurgents.

Two Ethiopians were killed, and the mutilated body of one of the soldiers was dragged though the streets by protesting women and children. The Ethiopians subsequently fired tank shells into a civilian market.

Mogadishu’s mayor, Mohamed Omar Habeb, accused members of the Islamic militant Shabab fighters of being responsible for the violence.

”They are attacking our troops and those of our friends and hiding among civilians,” he said. ”The government has a right to fight with them to restore law and order.”

The Ethiopians have temporarily withdrawn from the scene of the clashes, but the capital’s main roads remain blocked to both cars and pedestrians by Ethiopians and the troops of the UN-backed transitional government.

The government and its Ethiopian allies have been battling Islamic insurgents since they wrested control of the capital from them in December.

The insurgents vowed to fight an Iraq-style insurgency to regain the territory they had controlled for six months of 2006.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since a group of warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The impoverished Horn of Africa nation is awash with weapons and riven between quarreling clans.

Source: AP, Nov 10, 2007

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