Conflict has killed 6501 in Somalia, says rights group

MOGADISHU - Conflict in Somalia killed 6501 civilians in the capital Mogadishu in 2007 and wounded 8516 more, a local human rights group has revealed.

MOGADISHU - Conflict in Somalia killed 6501 civilians in the capital Mogadishu in 2007 and wounded 8516 more, a local human rights group has revealed.

The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation said on Monday it had recorded 1,5million people uprooted from homes in the city during a year that began with the toppling of an Islamist movement, spawning an insurgency.

The group's chairman, Sudan Ali Ahmed, blamed Ethiopian forces supporting the interim Somali government for many of the civilian deaths. Residents are often caught in the crossfire as Ethiopian soldiers battle Islamist-led guerrillas.

Ahmed told a news conference: "The international community must intervene in Somali affairs to force the Ethiopians to get out. At the same time they must bring a joint international peacekeeping force to secure the country."

He said he believed the US was funding Ethiopia to keep its troops in Somalia so it must take some of the blame.

The Horn of Africa nation has been mired in lawlessness since warlords ousted dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991. The transitional government is the country's 14th attempt at restoring central government since then.

In the latest violence, a mortar strike killed eight members of a family at a refugee camp north of Mogadishu on Sunday.

Insurgents also attacked troops in the south of the city and Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers at a strategic junction.

Captain Paddy Anlunda, a spokesman for the AU peacekeeping force, said no one was hurt in that clash.

On Monday, a senior Islamist commander, Muktar Ali Robow, told a local radio that his gunmen had launched the attacks on the Ethiopian soldiers and African peacekeepers.

"Mujahideen al-shabab fighters carried out their holy war on the Ethiopian and Ugandan troops who invaded our country," he said in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location. - Reuters

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