French legionnaires looked on and did nothing while a frenzied crowd tore off the woman's clothes, then beat and kicked her to the ground outside a hotel filled with journalists.
The attack, which the woman survived when she was dragged to a nearby former police station, was a graphic example of the anarchy that stalks Somalia after two years of clan killings and gun rule.
French Colonel Michel Touron said his men, who operate under US command, had no orders to intervene to ensure public order in the country, where all social structures including the police force, have collapsed. 'It was a police matter . . . We have other tasks,' he said.
This highlights the problem of whether the 35,000 foreign troops who will eventually descend on Somalia can limit their role to keeping food aid for the starving out of reach of the gunmen.
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