Fresh fighting between pro-government forces and Islamic militant groups has killed 208 people and wounded more than 700, a Somali minister says. In a Mogadishu hospital, wounded soldiers vow to crush the insurgency.
Clashes between Islamist insurgents and pro-government forces in the Somali capital of Mogadishu have dragged on for more than two weeks and claimed dozens of lives. In a hospital set up by the African Union mission to Somalia (AMISON), medics struggle to provide civilian casualties and wounded soldiers with adequate care.
“Equipment for orthopedic surgery is not here, and many of the patients who get injured come with fractured bones. Very many indeed,” says Major Joseph Asea, a supervisor and medic at an AMISOM hospital in Mogadishu.
Many of the patients here are soldiers pitted against rebels such as the Shabaab, a radical youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union.
The latest round of bloodletting in the Somali capital kicked off on May 7 when hardline Islamist groups launched a fresh offensive aimed at removing Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
In the AMISON hospital sick bay, the wounded soldiers pledge to carry on fighting against their enemies.
“It was the Shabaab insurgents who killed my mother. We're going to chase them out of Bakara market and annihilate them,” says a soldier referring to a Shabaab stronghold that was hit by mortar shells on Saturday.
Nearby, a wounded 16-year-old soldier says he is also determined to carry on with the fight: “I've been wounded in the ankle … But this is not over. The Shabaab are threatening our government but we're stronger than them."
Outside the hospital, Mogadishu residents gather in the hope that they may get some medicine for their families. According to the Somali minister for humanitarian affairs, Mohamoud Ibrahim Garweyne, 80% of recent casualties were civilians caught in the crossfire.
Residents say they only have themselves to rely on. “No one knows who's going to be in control of the city but all I know is that my son is sick,” says a young mother.
The seaside capital has been ravaged by 18 years of almost uninterrupted civil warfare and hundreds of thousands of people had already fled following Ethiopia's invasion in late 2006.
Date created : 2009-05-25