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Shelling in Somalia kills 15, mostly ex-soldiers | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – Mortars slammed into Somalia’s capital, killing three civilians and at least 12 men at a home for disabled veterans, an official said Saturday.

Nearly a dozen other former soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Islamic insurgents fired mortars Friday night toward Mogadishu’s port but the explosives landed in residential areas, including a residence for former army officers paralyzed or missing limbs from the country’s 1977 war with Ethiopia, according to government spokesman Shiek Abdirisaq Qeylow.

The spokesman gave the death and injured toll. Mohamed Abdi, 50, had moved to the army home after a bullet paralyzed him in 1977.

“I was sitting in my wheelchair about 10 meters (30 feet) away from my friends when a mortar exploded and smoke and dust covered us all,” he told The Associated Press. “I saw my friends on the ground, with blood scattered everywhere like slaughtered goats.”

Somalia has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other. A moderate Islamist was elected president in January in hopes that he could unite the country’s feuding factions, but the violence has continued unabated.

The government, backed by African Union peacekeepers, holds only a few blocks of Mogadishu, the war-torn capital.

A powerful Islamic insurgent group called al-Shabab, which has foreign fighters in its ranks, operates openly in the capital and seeks to overthrow the government and impose a strict form of Islam in Somalia.

Mogadishu sees near-daily violence, with both sides of the conflict accused of indiscriminate shelling. The Martini war veterans building is near the port, one of the few areas in the capital controlled by the government and the AU peacekeepers.

“It is a horrific and inhumane to shell civilian areas,” said Somali human rights activist Ali Sheik Fadhaa.

Many experts fear the country’s lawlessness could provide a haven for Al Qaeda, offering a place for terrorists to train and gather strength, much like Afghanistan did in the 1990s. The United States accuses al-Shabab of having ties to the Al Qaeda terror network, which al-Shabab denies.

Somalia’s lawlessness also has allowed piracy to flourish off its coast, making the vital Gulf of Aden one of the most dangerous waterways in the world.