Mortars kill four in Somalia

MOGADISHU - Insurgents yesterday fired mortars at three areas where Ethiopian troops hold strategic positions in Somalia's capital, leaving at least four civilians dead, witnesses said.

One mortar fell near Mogadishu's Bakara market, killing three civilians and wounding five others, said Abdi Haji Nuur, who owns a shop in the area.

Nearby Ethiopian troops returned fire with artillery, witnesses said.

At the sea port, where Ethiopian troops are living, a mortar fell on the beach near a group of children swimming. It killed one and wounded six, traditional elder Muridi Mayow said as he was taking the children to hospital.

Three mortars also fell in the city's Hodan district, wounding six people in a residential area, witnesses said.

The shelling follows two days of calm in Mogadishu, where Ethiopian troops have been protecting the weak transitional government as it attempts to assert its authority in the capital.

An African Union (AU) peacekeeping force has been proposed to replace the Ethiopian soldiers, who are widely despised by Mogadishu residents. It was not clear, however, if the peacekeepers would be welcome. Somalis held weekend demonstrations opposing the AU deployment.

The Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations has claimed responsibility for the attacks. - Sapa-AP