'Foreigners are rapidly becoming the enemy'

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The Independent Online
MOGADISHU - Dead bodies were stacked in a stairwell, like rubbish. That of a boy, no more than five, was covered with a cardboard box advertising skimmed milk, which had once kept him alive.

Next to him was a teenager, the top of his head blown off; his skull empty. His brain had fallen out. From his body, a trail of fresh blood led to a young woman. It was impossible to tell how she had died; her whole dress was soaked with blood.

Five bodies in all, lying in a silence broken only by the sound of footsteps on the stairs as doctors and nurses hurried up and down tending the wounded. The rooms of Benadir hospital were full of desperate makeshift operations. A woman opened her mouth in a silent scream of pain. A child opened his mouth in noisy pain as a doctor examined a shattered leg. There was no anaesthetic, so a nurse stuck his fingers in the boy's mouth to stop him biting his tongue.

Crowds gathered round the injured, stepping in their blood. Whispers of bewilderment and shock turned to murmurs of anger and into shouts of hostility. The assembled journalists were foreigners, and foreigners are rapidly becoming the enemy in Mogadishu. The UN are foreigners.

One Somali approached, his face distorted with anger, his voice slurred with hysteria. 'See what they do, see what they do. Why?' Those round him nodded in fierce agreement. It was time to go.

A few miles away, at the Difgar hospital, the dead lay outside on the ground. An attendant covered the four bodies with white sheets in the Muslim tradition. Inside, nurses were stemming the blood from a bullet wound in a young man's back.

There were 15 people being treated. Nurses were too harassed to describe exactly what the injuries were; patients were too shocked. But one man lifted himself up from a dirty operating table covered in his blood and dried blood of earlier patients. He pulled up his shirt to show a bullet wound and kept uttering 'Pakistanis, Pakistanis, Pakistanis'. To everyone in Mogadishu, it was all that needed to be said.

At the roundabout next to the building from where the Pakistanis fired, a pick-up truck was parked on wasteland. Two bloodied bodies, a man and a woman, huddled together in an ungainly sprawl that looked uncannily like an embrace.

From a nearby roof, the sun glinted on a pair of binoculars. 'Careful, the Pakistanis are watching,' said my companion.

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