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Week's toll may hit 1,000 as bombs pound Somali capital
Shells pounded Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, yesterday, killing at least 73 people to swell a death-toll already in the hundreds after battles pitting militias and Islamists against Somali and Ethiopian troops.
The escalating war has also sent more than 321,000 residents fleeing in the biggest refugee movement in Somalia since the 1991 fall of a dictator ushered in 16 years of anarchy. The UN and aid agencies say the exodus is creating a humanitarian catastrophe, with diseases already spreading.
"I counted 20 dead in the street and on the pavement. Some were missing heads, others were so mutilated you couldn't tell if they were men or women," Suleman Mohammed said from the Al Barakah market area, where more than seven mortars landed.
Residents and medical staff confirmed a minimum of 73 casualties from the incessant shelling and gunfire across the city, adding to an estimated 131 others from the previous three days' violence.
The week's final death toll is expected to soar, and may come close to the estimated 1,000 casualties from a similar four-day flare-up at the end of March. Most of the victims are civilians.