2 years ago
Eerie silence in empty Mogadishu
By Mark Doyle BBC News world affairs correspondent, Mogadishu
7 Apr 7, 2008 - 9:45:10 AM
The streets north of the ruins of the Old Parliament in Mogadishu stretch out like alleyways bulldozed through a rubble dump.
Parts of some of the buildings are still standing - a wall here, a section of collapsed roof there.
But the overall impression in this part of the Somali capital is one of massive destruction. I did not see a single house there without shell damage or bullet holes.
However, the really frightening part of it was the lack of people.
After covering several wars, I have come to be wary of empty places.
If, in a war zone, you turn a corner and see no shops open and no people going about their business - beware.
It usually means that some military activity has recently taken place there - so the people have fled - or that the people fear an imminent attack.
And the local people almost always know best.
As I drove through parts of Mogadishu on a patrol with Ugandan soldiers of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, there was an eerie lack of human beings.
Blasted buildings aside, this ghostly absence of people was a sure sign that this place is going through a period of terrible violence.
The United Nations estimates that in the past year at least half of the population of Mogadishu - or over half a million people - have fled the fighting between the Ethiopian-backed transitional government and its Islamist and clan-based opponents.... In Full
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