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Human Rights Watch: Shell-Shocked: Civilians Under Siege in Mogadishu

Editors: Georgette Gagnon, and Iain Gorvin
September 11, 2007



The year 2007 brought little respite to hundreds of thousands of Somalis suffering from 16 years of unremitting violence. Instead, successive political and military upheavals generated a human rights and humanitarian crisis on a scale not seen since the early 1990s.

Since January 2007, residents of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, have been gripped by a terrifying campaign of violence that has killed and injured hundreds of civilians, provoked the largest and most rapid displacement of a civilian population for many years, and shattered the lives, homes, and livelihoods of thousands of people. Although overlooked by much of the world, it is a conflict whose human cost is
matched by its regional and international significance.

The conflict in Mogadishu in 2007 involves Ethiopian and Somali government forces against a coalition of insurgent groups. It is a conflict that has been marked by numerous violations of international humanitarian law that have been met with a shameful silence and inaction on the part of key foreign governments and international institutions.

Violations of the laws of war documented in this report include the deployment of insurgent forces in densely populated neighborhoods and the widespread, indiscriminate bombardment of these areas by Ethiopian forces. The deliberate nature of these bombardments, evidence of criminal intent, strongly suggests the commission of war crimes.

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