The U.S. military led airstrikes against terrorism suspects in Somalia Thursday, killing a suspected al-Qaida leader. A panel of experts offer perspective on what the strike may mean for security in the region, the Somali people and the U.S. war on terror.
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Somalia is a country long plagued by violence and a desperate life for many civilians. Just yesterday, ITN correspondent Jonathan Miller prepared this report on the country's latest agonies.
JONATHAN MILLER, ITV News Correspondent:
In a land forever on the brink of the abyss, a small boy lies whimpering on a hospital bed. He's calling for his mother. We don't know his name or how old he is, but the tank shell which wounded him killed his father.
And this is his older brother. His name's Hassan.
"My father and I were walking out of the front door of the house when it hit us," he said. Hassan is clearly in agony from the wound the shrapnel inflicted. He couldn't manage to say anymore.
This is Mogadishu's Madina Hospital. It's the only place to go if you're shot, and it's full of people who have been.
In the latest round of fighting, more than 200 civilians reportedly wounded, the last count, at least 120 killed, many women and children among them.
Even those who've survived 17 years of civil war here say it's never been this bad.
This woman says three shells landed on her house as her family tried to evacuate. Her husband was killed on the spot. "For all the years I've lived in Mogadishu," she says, "all I've ever seen is civilians being murdered."
This is where many of the recent killings took place. Our Somali cameraman was shown a nursery school, where mortars or tank shells had slammed into roofs. People were dragged out and shot here.
Among this pile of empty bullet casings, a mentally ill woman was reportedly raped.
Outside, the damaged homes of Hassan and his little brother and all those who'd made it to Madina Hospital last week, Mogadishu looking ever more like a ghost town.
Local people say Ethiopian and Somali troops rampaged through this residential neighborhood looking for Islamist insurgents following an attack on their base. They left death and destruction in their wake.
This woman has a small shop, or had a small shop. It was looted, and she lost everything.
SOMALI CITIZEN (through translator):
A man was shot just over there, right in front of me. And another was shot across the road by the Internet cafe. I was hiding.
One of the men was dragged out into the street before they cut his arms and legs off and then shot him. The other was taken around the corner and shot.
Ethiopia invaded Somalia with America's blessing at the end of 2006 to oust a short-lived Islamist government. Since then, the country's descended further into madness.
The Islamists are now the insurgents. This is one of their propaganda videos, which we downloaded off the Web.
The Somali Mujahideen, proud to have been designated a terrorist organization by the United States of America, they're now an official franchise of al-Qaida central. Al-Shabab, as they're known, are battling what they call the "infidel Christian occupier, Ethiopia," and what they brand its puppet regime.
Somalia has become a magnet for global jihadis. In 15 months, 750,000 of Mogadishu's residents have fled. If this had happened anywhere else, one U.N. head of mission says, it would have triggered international outrage. Instead, all it's triggered is the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe.
This is Afgoye, where the capital's residents have fled to. It's distinguished by the density of displaced people, the highest in the world. Highest malnutrition rates in the world, too.