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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Ethiopian soldiers blamed for mosque massacre in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 21 (Garowe Online) - Ethiopian soldiers deployed in southern Somalia are responsible for a brutal killing at a mosque in the capital Mogadishu yesterday, witnesses and confidential sources said.

Residents in Mogadishu's Huriwa district buried dead victims from two days of intense fighting in the capital between Islamist-led insurgents and Ethiopian troops backing the country's weak secular government.

A witness named Omar told Garowe Online that he was inside al Hidaya Mosque in Huriwa district when Ethiopian soldiers stormed inside on Sunday.

"The first person they [Ethiopian soldiers] killed was Sheikh Said Yahya, the Imam [prayer leader]," Omar said, adding that the late Imam opened the mosque door after the soldiers knocked.

"I stood above 11 dead bodies, some with their throat slit and others shot to death," said the witness describing the gruesome scene. Of the 11 dead victims, nine were regular congregants at the mosque and reportedly were part of the Tabliiq wing of Sunni Islam.

A source who took part in Monday's effort to bury the dead victims privately told Garowe Online that some of the victims had their hands cut off and their backs broken.

Another source who was arrested by Ethiopian soldiers yesterday at al Hidaya Mosque and released today said the soldiers ordered him and other detainees not to return to the mosque.

"They accused us [detainees] of attacking them [Ethiopian soldiers] and said that we were trained at the [al Hidaya] mosque," said the source who did not want his name in print.

It is not clear why Ethiopian troops attacked al Hidaya Mosque, which is frequented by Tabliiq congregants who are reportedly not involved in the insurgency.

Upwards of 80 people were killed over the weekend in Mogadishu, according to the Elman Human Rights group.

Mogadishu-area hospitals said more than 120 wounded people have been admitted since Friday, according to an inquiry by Garowe Online.

Somali Prime Minister Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein defended the military operation in Huriwa district, telling the international media that Somali and Ethiopian troops will "defend themselves as they come under constant attack." [ Full story]

Somalia's Ethiopian-backed interim government is attempting to restore national order since its establishment in 2004. But the government has faced armed resistance since January 2007 led by remnants of an Islamist movement that once ruled Mogadishu.

Source: Garowe Online

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