December 18 2007

Troops occupy SOS Children's Village Mogadishu after heavy bombardment

A co-worker's wife and his two children were killed

18/12/2007 - Yesterday, 17 December at around 1.00 pm East African time, heavy mortar shells landed around the SOS Children's Village Mogadishu. The bombardment continued for about two hours, then ground troops consisting of Somali and Ethiopian soldiers moved in.

The soldiers conducted house to house searches for both weapons and insurgents, and in the process the SOS Children's Village and the SOS Hospital have been occupied by troops who spent last night there. They searched every building there, but did not cause any damage.

During the bombardment, a nurse from the hospital, Mohammed Ahmed Abdi, who has been working for the organisation since 1991, tried to flee with his wife and five children, but they were hit by an exploding shell. Mohammed Abdi's wife and two of his children were killed. One was an 18-year-old nursing student at the SOS Hospital, and the other a ten-year-old boy who was a pupil at the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mohammed Abdi and his remaining three children who are in hospital.

The SOS children, mothers and many co-workers were evacuated from the village two weeks ago after a similarly heavy bombardment and are all in the relative safety of other parts of Mogadishu. Ahmed Ibrahim, director of SOS Children's Villages Somalia, has been in touch with the project staff and is monitoring the situation closely.

SOS Children's Villages strongly condemns violent assaults on humanitarian facilities and calls for the unconditional protection of civilians. Only a few weeks ago, more than 40 NGOs, including SOS Children's Villages, made a concerted call for guaranteeing civilians' safety and protection of relief activities.