Somalia remains in state of violence, strife



MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP)—A Somali mob turned on journalists and killed an Associated Press photographer and a Reuters photographer on Monday, after U.N. helicopters fired cannon and missiles at a renegade warlord’s command center.

Another Reuters photographer and a television soundman were missing and feared dead in the mob attack. Two other journalists suffered stab and bullet wounds.

It was the most deadly single attack by Somalis on foreign civilians since the country collapsed amid anarchy and famine nearly three years ago. Foreign aid workers have repeatedly been assaulted by bandits, disgruntled employees, militiamen and others. At least six have died in separate incidents.

Supporters of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid claimed 73 Somalis died and 200 were wounded in the U.N. assault. But U.N. officials said their troops counted 13 dead Somalis and 11 wounded after the 17-minute attack by U.S. helicopters and soldiers.

A U.N. spokeswoman, Maj. Leann Swieczkowski, said damage was confined to a villa being used as a command center.

Aidid’s gunmen have been blamed for attacks that killed 35 U.N. soldiers and wounded 137 in the last five weeks, plunging Mogadishu back into the chaos that prevailed before a U.S.-led military force intervened in December. U.N. troops began trying to reassert control in early June, after gunmen believed to be under Aidid’s control killed 24 U.N. Pakistani peacekeepers.

In London, a group loyal to Aidid issued a statement saying his militiamen would continue fighting until all U.N. troops leave Somalia. Aidid has accused U.N. officials of favoring his rivals in the civil war that ravaged this impoverished country.

After the U.N. attack, people claiming to be Aidid supporters escorted journalists in cars to the scene to inspect the damage.

Suddenly, the journalists were shot at and then swarmed over by more than 100 angry Somalis armed with guns and knives. Some journalists sped away under fire, but several were cut off.

Somali interpreters employed by The Associated Press returned to the area and reported seeing the body of Hansi Krauss, a 30-year-old AP photographer from Germany. The body of photographer Dan Eldon, a U.S.-British citizen who worked for Reuters out of Kenya, was recovered by U.N. forces. He appeared to have been beaten with stones and rifle butts.

Somali employees for foreign news agencies said they saw the bodies of two other foreigners outside the villa. Two other Kenya-based Reuters employees, photographer Hosea D. Maina and soundman Anthony Macharia, were missing, but the agency said it had not confirmed the bodies were theirs.

Mohamed Shaffi, a Reuters television cameraman, was stabbed, shot in the leg and stoned but was able to reach a U.S. Army field hospital.

Shaffi told his agency that ‘‘I thought … ‘I’m not gonna die on the ground.’ So I got up and ran. I just kept running. I saw a pickup truck in front of me so I dived into the back.‘’

Stone-throwing men prevented the truck from reaching the hospital, so it dumped him in front of the hotel used by foreign journalists, and colleagues took him to the hospital, he said.

Scott Peterson, an American reporter for The Daily Telegraph of London, was treated for a machete cut on his head in an earlier mob attack.

Eric Cabanis, an Agence France-Presse photographer, said that as the media convoy approached the villa ‘‘the crowd was thick and hostile. People hit the car. I saw gunmen.’‘

The car carrying the Aidid supporters escorting the journalists got through the villa’s gates, ‘‘but the first journalists’ car wasn’t able to follow …‘’ Cabanis said in a first-person story for his agency.

Krauss ‘‘got out, he tried to fend off the crowd and slip through. I got out too. After a few meters (yards), I was being hit with all kinds of projectiles, rocks on the head and a sandal,’‘ Cabanis said, adding that he was able to return to his car and leave. ‘‘That’s when I lost sight of my colleagues.’‘

The U.N. special envoy to Somalia, retired U.S. Adm. Jonathan Howe, described the deaths of the journalists as ‘‘an outrageous and barbaric attack on innocent people doing their work honestly and professionally’‘ to bring Somalia’s problems to world attention.

Howe, who has ordered Aidid’s arrest, stepped up the hunt Saturday by announcing a $25,000 reward for information on his whereabouts.

Krauss was the second AP journalist to die on the job in three months. Sharon Herbaugh, chief of the AP bureau in Islamabad, Pakistan, died April 16 in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

‘‘We weep again for one of our own,’‘ Louis D. Boccardi, the AP’s president and chief executive officer, said in New York. ‘‘Like Sharon Herbaugh’s death in April, the loss of Hansi Krauss reminds us all of the great sacrifices they and their brave counterparts make so that the world can know what is going on in even the most dangerous places.’‘

A Somali interpreter for The AP, Ali Ibrahim Mursal, was shot to death Jan. 5 while trying to protect a reporter in Mogadishu’s main market. Jean-Claude Jumel, a French sound technician, was killed June 18 when gunmen ambushed a news crew from France’s TF1 network.

U.N. military spokeswoman Swieczkowski described the attacked villa as a command and staging center for gunmen of Aidid’s Somali National Alliance faction in the United Somali Congress party. She said American infantrymen found radios, documents and small arms in the compound.

She said 17 U.S. Cobra helicopter gunships and Blackhawk reconnaissance helicopters fired 16 missiles and more than 2,000 rounds of 20mm cannon rounds into the villa.

Huessein Dimbil, a spokesman for the United Somali Congress, said 73 Somali civilians died and up to 200 were wounded by the assault.

Swieczkowski said she had no information to support Dimbil’s claim. She spoke on a satellite phone hook-up to the journalists’ hotel.

Pakistani soldiers in the U.N. force guarding the hotel engaged in sporadic gun battles with Somalis until night fell. U.N. helicopters flew over the city well after dark, but few shots were heard.