March 16, 2007 / 9:47 AM / in 11 years

Accidental blast kills 9 near Mogadishu: police

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - An old land mine detonated accidentally by children killed nine people and wounded four on Friday near the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said.

Somalia is awash with armaments after 16 years of civil war. A local police chief said the device was dug up by the children of refugees fleeing mounting violence in the city.

“The blast went off after the children threw the unit into a fire,” said Ibrahim Dini Isak, police commander of Afgooye, an agricultural town on the western outskirts of Mogadishu.

“It destroyed two homes completely ... But it was not due to foul play or any terrorist attack,” he said by telephone.

Hassan Ahmed Hassan, Afgooye’s deputy mayor, said nine people were killed, including five children. Four people were wounded, including a woman who lost an arm.

Witnesses said body parts littered the scene.

Violence has mounted in Mogadishu since Somalia’s interim government and Ethiopian tanks, troops and warplanes defeated rival Islamists in a two-week war over the New Year.

U.N. agencies working in Somalia say more than 40,000 people fled the capital in February alone, and the arrival this month of more than 1,000 African peacekeepers has failed to stem near-daily gun, grenade and mortar attacks blamed on insurgents.

Additional reporting by Farah Roble in Afgooye

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