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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Heavy Somali fighting amid crisis
Many Mogadishu residents have seen their homes damaged

Fierce fighting has resumed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, following UN warnings of a humanitarian disaster.

"My house was crushed, collapsed by the mortars of the Ethiopian troops," resident Isa Gedi told the BBC.

"One of my sons died," he said by telephone, as shots could be heard in clashes between Ethiopian-backed government troops and insurgents.

Only fighters and men protecting their property are in the city as women and children have fled, aid workers say.

One human rights agency put the death toll at 113. However, this figure cannot be confirmed.

The main route used by people fleeing Mogadishu has been closed after an Ethiopian convoy on the road was attacked, and a blast hit a nearby military base on Thursday.

The rest of my family fled because they could not [bear to] see the flesh of my son, who is lying in the middle of the house
Isa Gedi
Mogadishu resident

More than 320,000 people have fled their homes since Ethiopian troops helped the government oust an Islamist group from Mogadishu in December, the UN says.

The new UN figure is more than 100,000 above previous estimates.

Correspondents say the shelling on Friday started at 0630 local time (0330 GMT) and gained momentum through the day.

"The rest of my family fled because they could not [bear to] see the flesh of my son, who is lying in the middle of the house," Mr Gedi told the BBC's World Today programme.

Heavy artillery is being fired from the central presidential palace towards the northern insurgent strongholds of Yakshid and Heli-waa.

President's response

BBC East Africa correspondent Adam Mynott says it is impossible to know how many people have died but some say 30 have been killed since Thursday.

However, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf told the BBC that the situation was slowly improving, blaming the latest violence on the Islamists.

"Our aim is to protect the public and the government from attacks of these remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts [UIC] because they are assassinating everyone to reckon with in Somalia who they think would sympathise with the government," he told the BBC.

Somali woman injured in Mogadishu
Many of those displaced in the fighting are women and children

He also said the Ethiopians would have withdrawn by now if the violence had not continued.

Most of those who had fled lacked food and water and hundreds had already died from cholera and diarrhoea, UN humanitarian co-ordinator Eric Laroche said.

Our correspondent says the displaced are living scattered across southern and central Somalia in appalling conditions.

There are also claims that the transitional government has stopped aid reaching some of those who need it.

But these have been strongly denied by the Ethiopian government, which says there is a need to monitor aid operations to prevent attacks.


The insurgents are believed to be a mixture of Islamist fighters and militiamen from the Hawiye clan - the largest in Mogadishu.

Violence has intensified this year after the relative calm when the UIC ran the city.

Somalia has not had an effective national government for 16 years.

Last month, more than 1,000 people were killed in the heaviest fighting since 1991.

The Ethiopian troops have started to withdraw, to be replaced by an African Union peacekeeping force.

But only 1,200 troops, of the 8,000 the AU says it needs, have been deployed.

Scenes of unrest in the Somali capital Mogadishu


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