Bloody fight­ing in So­ma­lia mars its 50th an­niver­sary

Austin American-Statesman - - FRIDAYBRIEFING -

MO­GADISHU, So­ma­lia — Dressed in cam­ou­flage and hun­ker­ing amid his sol­diers, So­mali Pres­i­dent Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed ap­peared on the front lines Thurs­day in an of­fen­sive against Is­lamic mil­i­tants in his coun­try’s shat­tered cap­i­tal of Mo­gadishu, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses and govern­ment of­fi­cials.

Fierce fire­fights rumbled across the city on the 50th an­niver­sary of So­mali in­de­pen­dence. An ar­tillery shell struck a build­ing where fam­i­lies had sought shel­ter, killing 11 peo­ple and wound­ing 22 oth­ers, part of a day of vi­o­lent bat­tles that saw a to­tal of 17 peo­ple killed, said Ali Muse, the head of Mo­gadishu’s am­bu­lance ser­vice.

Eye­wit­ness and me­dia re­ports said Ahmed clam­bered on a tank and car­ried an as­sault ri­fle, but it was un­clear how di­rectly he was in­volved in the com­bat.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed vis­ited troops in Mo­gadishu.

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