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(This is the first diary of war by a veteran Somali Journalist 1990/1992-a war fought under the merciless Somalia sun in the immediate aftermath of the ouster of military dictator, Major-General Mohamed Siyad Barre from power after ruling the country for more than two decades with an iron fist.
Like any great-war diary, the force of the talent behind it makes it forever timeless. This is the brutal expose' of the rotten core of a country ruled by ruthless, bloodthirsty warlords, their sinister power and barbaric acts that divided the Somali people along clan, sub, sub-clan lines. Mr. Afrah wrote the Diary (slightly edited with new material) before the international task force spearheaded by the Americans stormed the beaches of Mogadishu on December 9, 1993--
The Webmaster

Mogadishu, November 5, 1991
Uncertainty is still the name of the game; even simple people can sense how volatile things have become. The worst of all is that every time I begin to fall asleep, I wake up with a start, and a bitter taste in my mouth. Shells come whistling over our houses in great arcs, dispatched by invisible batteries to hit straight targets close to our homes.

The mosque in our neighbourhood was hit this morning by a tank shell and the minaret with its crescent moon and star is lying in the middle of the rubble and debris. A disabled Soviet-era armoured vehicle is burning furiously in the middle of the dirt road.

From my window I can see more houses set ablaze by shellfire during the night, now burning fiercely. As always, gunners on hilltops target crowded residential areas and open-air markets. Wherever I look red and yellow flashes split the darkness of the night, marking clearly the deadly path of the armoured attack.

A new sound mingles with the T55 tank shells. It is hollow, whining howl of the Stalin Organs, also known as Katyushas in Russian. They fell not far from us, and the holes they make are tremendous. The blast deafens me for hours. More explosions thunder, and crush followed by eerie silence that lasts few minutes. Some of the windows in my house trickled to pieces.

Thousands of people have fled their homes to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. Only a handful of people, mostly elderly men and women refused to abandon their homes, come what may. Entire residential area was reduced to rubble.

Mogadishu, November 6, 1991.

It is 7.30 a.m. and I can see General Aideed's the gunners quite well now with the help of an antiquated binocular. Hamar Bileh and the Towers of Mogadishu Stadium, about three miles from my home, must be their favourite positions. On the other hand, supporters of Ali Mahdi positioned themselves on a hill at Sheikh Muhiddin's encampment, North of Mogadishu. Others stationed themselves on top of old Bar FIAT and surrounding buildings, including the General Post Office and Hotel Juba.

Residents are now scrambling to get food, water and firewood, taking advantage of the lull. All water mains, telephone lines and electricity have been completely destroyed by General Barre forces and were finished by the USC guerrillas in the factional fighting. I saw three young men digging the ground to remove the water pipes, probably to sell them as scrape metals. Others are looting electricity and telephone lines for the same purpose. All communications are down and there is no way to dispatch my stories to Reuters news agency or BBC in London.

New words have been added to the Somali parlance and lexicon; these are Bililiqeysi, (looting) Faqash (General Barre's soldiers and security forces) and Mooryaan (Predators).

It seems the world remains unaware of what is taking place in Somalia. Even if they do, the Gulf War overshadowed all other explosive situations, including the carnage in Somalia. My brave neighbour said: "It is because Somalia, unlike Kuwait, does not boast oil or other minerals and we should not expect help from any quarter." He is dead right! We both share my battery powered radio transistor during short lull in fighting-a rare commodity in Mogadishu these days. But the question that bugs me all the time is where can I obtain new batteries. But my resourceful neighbour assures me not to worry, for he will do everything humanely possible to get new batteries, war no war!

A tank in front of my home just swung out and rumbled thunderously, after gun mounted vehicles known as Technicals, leaving behind dozens of spent shells and several dead militia on the dusty road, some of them still gripping AK-47s in one hand. This was the result of last night's fierce battles between Ali Mahdi and General Aideed forces.
It is extremely doubtful if anyone who is here will be able to forget all this easily. The noise, the impenetrable darkness, the fear, the knowledge from the sound of the bullets and artillery shells are on both sides of your own home would certainly cause you sleepless nights.

This killing field automatically destroyed my belief that all Somalis are brothers and sisters who would never kill each other, using lethal weapons supplied by foreign powers, and instead settle their differences in the traditional Shir between elders from both sides. Paradoxically, dozens of wannabe warlords and faction leaders made their presence felt in almost all the regions of the country in the immediate aftermath of the ouster of General Barre from power, adding more fuel to the fire. Many of them are said to be the protégés of General Barre.

People who are properly versed in the antics of the clan leaders predict that unprecedented humanitarian disaster is looming ahead. I dreaded and detested more than words can express the prospect of prolonged clan warfare.

To be continued….
Afrah's War Diary 1991/1992

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