A Mogadishu style welcome

The soft breeze from the Indian Ocean on whose shores Mogadishu's International airport is, for a moment made me forget that I had landed in what is arguably the world's most dangerous city.

    I arrived in Mogadishu early morning from the capital of neighbouring Kenya, Nairobi.

    The soft breeze from the Indian Ocean on whose shores Mogadishu's International airport is, for a moment made me forget that I had landed in what is arguably the world's most dangerous city.

    The hasty steps of the rest of the passengers brought me out of my reverie. I joined them in a trot to the single terminal building at the airport.

    It's very common for the anti-government fighters to target the airport with mortar attacks. We were lucky today. After our pictures and thumb prints were taken, we were whisked through to our waiting vehicle.

    Outside the gate of the airport were huge concrete barriers that completely blocked off the road. Suddenly, a forklift driven by an African Union peace-keeper appeared almost from nowhere and lifted them for us to pass.

    I was told the barriers were there to block any  vehicles, laden with explosives, targeting the airport for attacks - something that has happened on several occasions in the past.

    we were joined by a dozen or so gunmen  100m from the terminal - these guards that will offer us close protection during our stay in volatile Mogadishu.

    On arrival at our hotel, the gates were opened by a group of overzealous gunmen who trained their guns on our car lest we were there to cause harm.

    And even before we could settle down in our hotel rooms we were informed of an attack on a public bus. Mogadishu was living up to its violent reputation.

    A roadside bomb apparently intended for African Union peacekeepers had exploded, killing at least seven on the bus and injuring 25.

    About 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers are stationed in Somalia's capital to serve as a bulwark against fighters' efforts to overrun the UN-backed government.

    Mogadishu residents have borne the brunt of the country's two decades of violence, and the warring sides continue to endanger civilians.

    Most of the dead and injured from Tuesday's attack were students on their way home from the Mogadishu University. We rushed to the Madina Hospital, Mogadishu's main trauma and gunshot wounds medical facility.

    The usual chaotic scenes whenever such attacks happened reigned at Madina. The few medical workers still at the ill-equipped hospital rushed the injured to the only two operating rooms at the hospital.  Outside the operating rooms piles of blood-stained clothes belonging to the injured lay in heaps.

    They were put there I was informed for relatives to rummage through to identify if their loved ones were injured.

    A man brought a student identity card out of the pile of clothes. It belonged to his brother - a university student. The card, carrying a photo of a smiling student,  promised a brighter future.

    Moments later the man found his brother's body in the morgue. It was so disfigured that he only managed to identify it through the clothes he'd been wearing when he had left in the morning.

    The man needed support as he was escorted out of the morgue.

    "We are all like goats waiting to be slaughtered," he said shaking his head.

    "Everyday we lose some and the rest of us know that our day is yet to come but most definitely on its way," he added with lots of grief.

    And with that eventful day begins my journey back to Mogadishu after being away from it for nearly to two years.


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