Grenades thrown at Somali troops wound five (Somalia)
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Attackers hurled two grenades at Somali troops patrolling Mogadishu's busy Bakara market on Saturday, wounding five people in the latest strike against government forces.
The first grenade thrown by the unidentified assailants hit close to where troops were standing and burned a vehicle parked outside Dahabshil bank, Somalia's biggest. The other was lobbed 10 minutes later at troops patrolling nearby.
"I saw a vehicle burning," shopkeeper Kulmiye Adan, who witnessed the first attack, told Reuters. "A wounded policeman and one civilian with missing legs bleeding profusely and writhing in pain were lying down. There must be fatalities."
Peeping through the rooftop of his office opposite the bank, Ahmed Nassir said he saw at least five wounded.
"There was a lot of confusion. People were running. The troops opened fire in response to the attack. I saw 4 civilians and a policeman wounded by the grenades." He said.
The government could not be immediately reached for comment.
Two people were wounded in a separate explosion when a remote-controlled landmine targeting government troops detonated in northern Mogadishu, witnesses said.
Somalia's interim government -- the 14th attempt to set up central rule in Somalia since the 1991 fall of a military dictator -- is struggling to impose authority in the country.
Since running a militant Islamist group out of Mogadishu and southern Somalia in an Ethiopian-backed offensive over the New Year, it has faced an Iraq-style insurgency with roadside blasts, assassinations and suicide bombings.
The Mogadishu attack came a day after government and allied Ethiopian soldiers carried out a weapons sweep of the sprawling Bakara market, which they say is a hideout for insurgents.
Meanwhile, coastguards from the autonomous region of Puntland seized over 200 Ethiopian and Somali immigrants on Saturday in a rickety boat on their way to Yemen via the shark-infested Gulf of Aden.
The coastguards intercepted the boat in international waters and forced it to divert to the northern port of Bosasso.
Puntland regularly intercepts boats full of immigrants to block the illegal departures and to ensure the vessels do not dump passengers overboard. That is a frequent occurrence on the journey, which claims scores of lives annually.
Sahra Salad Mohamed, 26, was among the migrants. She fled the violence in Mogadishu to join her husband, who has already made the perilous journey to Yemen.
"I have no option but to try again after the troops release me," the mother of three told Reuters after disembarking.
"I better die in the seas than be shredded by the explosions in Mogadishu. My husband is in Yemen and we have to join him."
The Somali captain of the nameless Yemeni boat, who only gave his name as Mohamed, said he had had 210 immigrants aboard.
"The worst the troops can do is fine me. I will pay and return to my work. I have never forced my clients overboard," Mohamed told Reuters, his face bloodied by what he said was a beating from the coastguards.
Von: 07.07.2007, Guled Mohamed, http://africa.reuters.com