Mogadishu violence kills 6,500 in past year – Reuters

December 30th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Conflict in Somalia killed 6,501 civilians in the capital Mogadishu in 2007 and wounded 8,516 more, a local human rights group said on Monday.

The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization said it had recorded 1.5 million people uprooted from homes in the city during a year that began with the toppling of an Islamist movement, spawning an insurgency.

The group’s chairman, Sudan Ali Ahmed, blamed Ethiopian forces supporting the interim Somali government for many of the civilian deaths. Residents are often caught in the crossfire as Ethiopian soldiers battle Islamist-led guerrillas.

“The international community must intervene in Somali affairs to force the Ethiopians to get out. At the same time they must bring a joint international peacekeeping force to secure the country,” Ahmed told a news conference.

He said he believed the United States was funding Ethiopia to keep its troops in Somalia, and must take some of the blame.

The Horn of Africa nation has been mired in lawlessness since warlords ousted dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991. The transitional government is the country’s 14th attempt at restoring central government since then.

In the latest violence, a mortar strike killed eight members of a family at a refugee camp north of Mogadishu on Sunday. Insurgents also attacked troops in the south of the city and Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers at a strategic junction.

A spokesman for African Union peacekeeping force said no one was hurt in that clash. On Monday, a senior Islamist commander — Muktar Ali Robow — told local Shabelle radio that his fighters had launched the attacks.

(Reporting by Aweys Yusuf and Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by Keith Weir)

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