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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Family's nightmare escape from Mogadishu
Somali Khadra Mohammed, who is the BBC's Swahili reporter in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, tells how she managed to flee the intense fighting with her five children across the border to Kenya.

Somali Khadra Mohammed
Khadra had to jump over decaying bodies as she escaped Mogadishu
I have witnessed most phases of the fighting in Somalia since the ouster of President Siad Barre [in 1991] but what is happening now is just beyond belief.

I never thought that there would come a time when I would be forced to jump over decaying bodies as I fled the fighting.

Tears constantly rolled down my cheeks on seeing the number of innocent people killed and as I had to hop over them, along with my five children when we were escaping Mogadishu.

People say that 1,000 people have died during the fighting this month but I believe the number is higher - some died in the bushes where they could not be reached. They either starved or bled to death from injuries sustained during the fighting.

Life was even not easy for us as we fled, we had to pay about $20 (10) each to board the lorry that was ferrying people to Afgooye and other parts of Somalia and safety.

The journey to the Kenyan border was hard, it was the worst experience for my family and especially for my children, more so the youngest, who is only three years old.

Vulnerable vigils

We survived on water melons throughout the three-day journey under the scorching sun during the day and scary cold nights.

Khadra Mohammed and three of her children
My children cannot erase these memories... they occasionally wake up screaming in the night
Khadra Mohammed
Somali refugee, Kenya

I hardly slept, each night I kept vigil all through the hours of darkness since we were vulnerable; wild animals could have easily turned us into a feast or rogue militiamen could have attacked us.

On two occasions our lorry was sprayed with bullets by militiamen who were demanding money from us.

Luckily no-one was injured.

My children cannot erase these memories, even after we got to Mandera in Kenya where it is safe, they occasionally wake up screaming in the night after having nightmares.

I really pity the poor people in Mogadishu who are dying because they cannot escape the fighting.

I blame both the Ethiopian troops and the Hawiye clan fighters - they have cold hearts and cannot see how innocent people are dying just because they want power.


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