Five blasts hit Mogadishu market
MOGADISHU, July 8 (Reuters) Insurgents threw grenades at Somali government soldiers in Mogadishu's Bakara market today, and the troops responded by firing their weapons indiscriminately, witnesses said.
It was the second straight day of attacks in Bakara, famed as the site of one of the world's biggest open-air arms markets, which has thrived in the anarchy the Horn of Africa nation has suffered since 1991.
''Five grenade explosions have occurred in Bakara market.
Some of them we directed at government forces but they injured no one. I don't know if there are any civilian casualties,'' senior police officer Ali Nur told Reuters.
A Reuters reporter saw troops firing heavy machineguns from their trucks after the grenades were hurled. He saw one land near some troops patrolling near the Shabelle radio station.
''Government troops are firing indiscriminately after several hand grenades were thrown at them. Some of the troops are looting people. It's total chaos here,'' said one shopkeeper who declined to be named.
''I don't know who they are firing at. Bakara is becoming a battlefield.'' Many businesspeople have complained that soldiers, who are often unpaid for months, have taken their property at gunpoint.
The government has declined to comment.
A grenade attack yesterday in Bakara wounded five people.
Somali and allied Ethiopian soldiers on Thursday and Friday swept through the market seizing weapons.
They say it is a hideout for insurgents, including militant Islamists, who have increasingly attacked the government, employing Iraq-style guerrilla tactics including assassinations, roadside blasts and suicide bombings.
REUTERS SBC BST2129