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UN Rights Envoy Says Fear Growing in Somalia


A United Nations human rights expert says people in Somalia are more afraid then ever of being targeted by fighting in the capital, Mogadishu.

Ghanim Alnajjar said Friday that civilians are afraid of being killed and of being arrested by insurgents, government troops and Ethiopian forces. He also accused all sides of recruiting children to fight in the conflict.

Alnajjar was speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, following a brief trip to Somalia. On Thursday, he met with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi.

Alnajjar is the U.N.-appointed independent human rights expert on Somalia. He relies on interviews with a wide range of people to make regular reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Mogadishu has been plagued by almost-daily violence since January, shortly after the government and its Ethiopian backers ousted a rival Islamist movement from power.

Battles between Islamist insurgents and pro-government forces have killed thousands and prompted more than 100,000 others to flee the city.

The country has not had a stable central government since warlords ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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