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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 January, 2005, 20:52 GMT
Italy outrage at destroyed graves
Man destroying wall foundations in Mogadishu
Much of Mogadishu has been destroyed by looters
The Italian government has condemned the destruction of an Italian colonial cemetery by militiamen in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

The office of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi described the action as barbarous and called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Some 700 graves in the cemetery were destroyed and their human remains dumped elsewhere.

Reports say militias want to use the ground for a base.

Playing with remains

"To desecrate a place of silence and memory, sacred to all civilisations, represents a vile and particularly hateful act that cannot have any justification," Mr Berlusconi's office said.

His Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini has ordered Italy's special envoy and its head of mission in Somalia to express Italian outrage to the Somali government, which is based in Kenya.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in the city says he saw human remains which had been dumped at a former air force base near Mogadishu airport, and said he witnessed children playing with human bones.

The militias refused to let him enter the cemetery.

Mogadishu was under Italian colonial control until World War II and many of the graves belong to Italian soldiers and expatriates.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991 and rival militias have divided it into a patchwork of fiefdoms.

A new Somali government has been named and is due to start relocating to Mogadishu from Kenya on 1 February.


SEE ALSO:
Somali militias target cemetery
19 Jan 05 |  Africa


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