Thousands flee fighting in Mogadishu.

This is from middle east on-line. The Ethiopians are proxies for US troops. Since the overthrow of the Islamist government, a government the US could not tolerate, there has been no stability. The UN recognised government has never really ruled the country and depends upon the Ethiopians for most of the power they have.

Thousands flee fighting in Somali capital

Death toll from fighting in Mogadishu climbs to 59 as locals slam Ethiopians shooting civilians.

MOGADISHU - The toll from some of the worst fighting in Somalia's war-wracked capital climbed to 59 on Saturday, as thousands fled the city fearing more clashes between Ethiopian forces and rebels, witnesses said.

Sixteen bodies, including one of an Ethiopian soldier, were recovered on Saturday in and around Mogadishu's Black Sea district, where rival sides pounded each other with artillery fire since Thursday, witnesses said.

According to figures compiled by AFP, fighting in the city since Thursday has claimed 59 lives.

"It was a very gruesome scene. They indiscriminately shot innocent civilians who were fleeing the fighting," said local elder Ali Muse Mohamed, referring to the Ethiopian soldiers.

Residents recovered bullet-riven bodies, ripped limps and shattered skulls on the blood-streaked streets and in bombed-out houses. They said women and children were also targetted by the Ethiopian troops battling rebels.

"They shot any moving creature around the neighbourhood ... They also killed children," lamented Hassan Sugule, another elder.

"The Ethiopians are killing even the women let alone the men, so we have no option of staying. We are looking for safety," said Ali Mohamed Barqad, adding that his neighbourhood was deserted.

A tense calm prevailed in the battered city Saturday, but rival sides dug into their positions girding up for fresh combat.

Meanwhile, thousands of residents fled Mogadishu, many on foot and others aboard trucks and on donkey, heading for the calmer outskirts already choked by hundreds of thousands who left their homes earlier, witnesses said.

Two weeks of clashes in Mogadishu had already displaced at least 90,000, according to the United Nations, worsening the humanitarian crisis that has blighted the nation for 16 years.

The Ethiopian army came to the rescue of the feeble transitional government last year to help it oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that had controlled large parts of the country.

The ICU was defeated earlier this year, but its remnants and allied militants have since waged a guerrilla war aiming to destroy all pro-government targets.

Meanwhile panic reigned supreme in the city.

"We are unable to flee to far areas because we do not have enough money," said Nur Adan Mohamed, loading stuff onto a cart.

"Some of my family members are still trapped in Suqaholaha," said Muhubo Shilis, a mother of five who could only manage to escape with three of her children from her neighbourhood.

"We ask God to have mercy on us because nobody cares about our predicament," she added.

Another fleeing resident Hindiya Sugow Nur said she only left three goats in her house, saying: "I don't want to see my family members killed," she added.

Intense fighting erupted Thursday, killing several people and frenzied civilians dragged the body of an Ethiopian soldier on the streets, in a scene reminiscent of 1993, when the bodies of US special forces taking part in a doomed operation were torn to pieces and displayed in the streets.

An attempt by Ethiopian troops to recover the body, worsened clashes that continued into Friday, leaving a trail of fatalities and destruction of property.

The Ethiopian army crackdown in Mogadishu has blown the lid off decades of complex ethnic, social and political hatred between the two nations which have fought two wars in the past decades.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch meanwhile accused both sides of sweeping violations.

The world "should condemn these attacks and hold combatants accountable for violations of humanitarian law, including mutilating captured combatants and executing detainees," said Peter Takirambudde, the group's director for Africa.

In his quarterly report on Somalia, released Thursday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said deploying UN troops was not a "realistic and viable option".


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