12 September 2009

Somalia: Mortar Shells Kill 10 in Mogadishu

A number of mortar shells hit parts of central Mogadishu on Friday evening leaving at least ten dead.

One of the mortars landed in a residential area while another crashed onto the city's main jail.

The worst incident, however, occurred at De Martino Hospital, a former medical facility that had been converted into a lodge for the Somali war veterans of the 1977/78 conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia.

Most of the residents are the Ogaden war veterans and the blast killed six on the spot and left twenty five severely injured.

It was just before Iftar (Futuru) as the residents were waiting to break the fast.

By early Saturday morning, four more wounded veterans lost their lives at Medina Hospital.

"It is one of the most shocking events we witnessed," said Hassan Sheikh Qalli, a resident in Hamarweyne district where De Martino Hospital is located.

The injured persons included the spokesman of the disabled war veterans, Abdi Ali Mahad.

The Transitional Federal Government was quick to blame the Islamist group, Al-Shabaab, for the attack.

Sheikh Abdirizak Mohamed Qaylow, the spokesman of the pro-government paramilitary unit known as Drawiish condemned what he called the anti-peace (opposition) groups.

"The anti-peace (Al-Shabaab) group engage in this kind of merciless act in the course of their drive to defeat the government in Somalia," said Sheikh Qaylow. "They do not even care who suffers in civilian populated areas," he added.

"We are all shocked," said a legislator who lost a relative, but declined to be named.

Mogadishu residents have been experiencing intense battles between the TFG and the opposition Islamist groups since early May.

Al-Shabaab and Hizbu Islam have declined repeated calls from the government to settle differences through negotiations.

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