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Slain Ethiopian Troops Paraded In Mogadishu Streets
The show of defiance by the Shabab, the radical armed wing of the main Somali Islamist movement, came as a four-day lull was shattered by renewed fighting in the capital's southern neighborhoods.
"We will keep killing them until they get out of our country," said one of the gun-toting insurgents, shouting from the back of pick-up, the kind that has become a symbol of Somalia's 17-year-old lawlessness.
His face hidden behind a red turban, the Islamist fighter and his two fellow insurgents toured the southern Barua district for several minutes with their gruesome trophy.
"The people who invaded our country are dying every day in the fighting," an AFP reporter heard the man shout.
Witnesses confirmed an artillery duel between Ethiopian forces and insurgents in the nearby Gupta neighborhood, in the first night marred by major clashes since Ali Mohamed Gedi resigned from the premiership on Monday.
According to witnesses, the latest spate of attacks in the restive seaside capital left four Ethiopian troops, two civilians and an insurgent dead. The death toll could not be immediately confirmed by medical sources.
Residents said at least one Ethiopian soldier was killed when raiding suspected Islamist insurgent hideouts in southern Mogadishu's Al-Baraka neighborhood.
"I have seen the body of an Ethiopian soldier at Al-Baraka junction ... Another soldier was wounded in the leg," said a resident who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.
"A man selling petrol near the junction was hit by a stray bullet and another was shot by Ethiopian forces as he tried to escape," said Mohamed Ali, another resident.
Ethiopian troops have been venturing deeper into the streets of Islamist bastions in recent days, in abid to break the back of an insurgency that has plagued efforts to stabilize the transitional government for months.
The Ethiopian army came to the rescue of the embattled Somali government last year to oust an Islamist militia that briefly controlled large parts of the country and sought to impose Islamic law.
The Islamic Courts Union were swiftly defeated earlier this year, but its remnants and allied tribes have since waged a guerrilla war against their enemies.
However the heavy-handed crackdown on the insurgents has also angered many in Mogadishu. Three civilians were killed late last month when Ethiopian troops opened fire on demonstrators protesting against their presence.
On Wednesday, the UN refugee agency said up to 90,000 civilians were displaced in Mogadishu in the weekend fighting, which was "the worst in months" stoking worsening humanitarian crisis in the country.
The parading of dead Ethiopian troops through the streets of Mogadishu was somewhat reminiscent of 1993, when the bodies of US special forces taking part in a doomed operation were famously torn to pieces and paraded in the streets.
Alarmed by the escalating violence in Mogadishu, 40 aid groups warned of an "unfolding humanitarian catastrophe" in parts of Somalia and said they could no longer meet the country's growing relief needs.
The fighting is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation which has left 1.5 million -- almost one sixth of the total population -- in need of help.
Bloody clan feuds following the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre escalated into a civil war which continues to defy every peace initiative.