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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Wires from the front line: Somalia

Elizabeth Jones
Elizabeth Jones had to pay militia so she was not shot or kidnapped

"Twenty minutes later we crossed a road on the Green Line where two or three shots rang out and everyone scattered".

Transcripts of telephone calls, text messages and
e-mails between Elizabeth Jones in Somalia and Will Daws, series producer in London, record Elizabeth's emotional journey.

All times GMT

Wednesday 17 March

In Mogadishu. Safe with my 15 security men.

I met some kids. Went to Green line area this morning. One outstanding kid there. His name is Muktar. He says he's 14 but he looks about eight - he's tiny. Parents were killed in 1993 when their house was shelled. He was taken in by local militia when he was three. Now he's a freelance gun man so available for hire by businessmen or local militias; gun-for-hire. He has his own AK-47.

Sleeps rough at night on the streets or in burnt out buildings. He makes $1-2 a day depending. Most of his work is with other militias and doing checkpoint work

He goes to the Green Line and goes around the militias asking for work and food.

At the Green Line there are five major militias where I want to film. They are all willing to let me film for $40 per faction per day. So $200 a day from tomorrow.

Payment guarantees I'm not shot or kidnapped.

It's the most burnt out part of town; every building smashed to bits. No signs of normal life. Our character, Muktar speaks Somali.

Friday 19 March

I went to the Green Line today to film. I was filming on the beach there which is controlled by two different militias. After half an hour there a shot was fired that just missed my midriff (it landed in a wall nearby). I hit the ground. My militia were excellent and didn't fire back and didn't panic. We located the shooter - he was from one of the militias that I'd paid off yesterday.

Guns for hire
Muktar (bottom row, second from right) with fellow gun-for-hire militia

Twenty minutes later we crossed a road on the Green Line where two or three shots rang out and everyone scattered. We don't know where the shots came from but we assumed it was from some freelance gunmen.

I then made my way to the militia who had shot at us earlier. They found it very funny that they had shot at me even though I'd paid them not to! As we were negotiating, another shot rang out (not close) and everyone scattered.

I'm fine and not shaken but I am angry! I don't want to abandon the film but nor do I want to take any unnecessary risks. I'm meeting some people at the hotel to discuss what happened today and will decide whether it's safe to return to the Green Line.

I did some filming with Muktar this morning (not at the Green Line) and he's a great character.

Saturday 20 March

I feel a lot better, feel more confident at filming at the Green Line. Paid the militia double. The kid is still fine. Interviewed his adoptive father today.

Boy been to school one month his whole life. Loves being a soldier.

People looking for his bombed house and will film tomorrow.

Sunday 21 March

I'm fine. Did some filming with the boy at the house where his parents were killed and he got very emotional. I'll keep a low profile now until tomorrow morning.

His old house is still rubble.

He's sleeping in a camp with a militia - he'll stay there tonight. It's about a ten minute drive in a jeep with a mount on the back - that's what he sleeps in. Arrive at the Green Line and then see what happens.

Don't want to interfere with his day. He normally goes round the Green Line; we'll guide him to the safe militias - if he gets a job on the Green Line and it's tense then we'll move.

One of the warlords said he's withdrawing from peace talks that are due to start today.

If it's tense I'll leave there with Muktar.

At 1300 the shipments of Khat come in and they start distributing it to all the militias and all they do all afternoon is chew it. Even my own bodyguards do it! Such a gun culture it's unreal.

It's very hot here: 50 degree heat.

Monday 22 March

Five hours at the Green Line, a lot of it was doing nothing.

First couple of hours was good.

0715 Waking up (he slept besides the truck in a sack). Washed.

0815 Went to the Green Line. First hour great - jumped off the truck, looked for a job. They gave him money. Bumped into another friend: "have you made any money as we're so hungry?" he gave them some.

1000 He got a job at a checkpoint. He was there for a while. He got enough money for some khat (mild narcotic plant). He was there for an hour.

1100 Went to another part of town and great encounter: went into a building, lots of guys smoking hash. He joined them and talked about love for Osama Bin Laden and Saddam.

Baking outside.

1200 Ate some food. Went to sleep.

1430 Bought a big bag of khat.

1500 Stayed in a bar chewing khat with some friends. Nice chat with a friend. He'll stay here till he goes to bed.

I've finished! He ate a huge bag of khat and was so stoned.

Pretty uneventful this afternoon. Filmed him having supper and going to bed (I dream of going out with the militia that's all I want to do). He went to sleep by the truck in his khat sack.

2000 supper and then bed.

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