Day's violence claims civilians, peacekeepers and an aid worker in Somalia (Somalia)
A day of intense insurgent attacks and roadside bombings in Somalia's battle-scarred capital, Mogadishu, has led to the deaths of at least five civilians and possibly African Union peacekeepers, Radio Garowe reported.
A bloody gunfight across city streets in Mogadishu's Howlwadaag, Hodan and Wardhigley districts erupted Friday morning after joint Somali-Ethiopian security forces on search-and-seize operations were ambushed.
Locals said the Ethiopian-backed government troops were searching homes and businesses, and reportedly confiscated numerous weapons.
But heavily-armed insurgents hurled grenades at the soldiers on patrol, sparking a deadly round of face-to-face street fighting.
"I saw five dead bodies they were all dressed in civilian clothes," a witness told Radio Garowe by telephone.
It was not immediately clear whether or not rebel fighters were among the dead.
A government spokesman said two soldiers stationed near the Villa Somalia presidential compound were wounded.
Unconfirmed reports said insurgent mortars had hit the Villa Somalia compound, with the president's security forces responding by firing artillery shells into Bakara market, the country's largest marketplace.
There was no report of any casualties at the market, although there were a relatively smaller number of consumers shopping at the market because most businesses remained closed on Friday in observance of the Muslim faith.
In a separate incident, a spokesman for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) told the press that four peacekeepers were wounded when their army vehicle hit a landmine.
Witnesses described a horrific scene, where four bodies were pulled from the wrecked truck that was severely damaged by the explosion.
It could not be independently verified whether or not any of the AMISOM soldiers from Uganda had died from injuries sustained from the roadside blast.
The 2,500-strong AMISOM peacekeeping force deployed in Mogadishu is from Uganda and Burundi, but far short of the full-force deployment of 8,000 soldiers. The peacekeepers control the capital's seaport and the international airport, while helping provide security at Villa Somalia.
In central Somalia, a driver working for the Red Cross was shot and killed by two unidentified men armed with pistols overnight Thursday, locals said.
Omar Dahir Barre, the driver, rented his personal car for the use of the Red Cross's humanitarian operations in Dhusamareb, the capital of Galgadud region.
There was no motive available for the fatal shooting of the driver, but local sources expressed their suspicion that anti-government groups are responsible for the killing.
Von: 23.5.2008, www.garoweonline.com