Postcard From Mogadishu: 'The Walls Are Like Swiss Cheese From All The Shooting' : The Two-Way NPR East Africa Correspondent Frank Langfitt is in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on a reporting trip. Today, after he traveled with some African Union troops, Langfitt sent us a dispatch.
NPR logo Postcard From Mogadishu: 'The Walls Are Like Swiss Cheese From All The Shooting'

Postcard From Mogadishu: 'The Walls Are Like Swiss Cheese From All The Shooting'

The Indian Ocean. "You can see this was once a beautiful place," Frank Langfitt writes. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Frank Langfitt/NPR

NPR's Frank Langfitt, is in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital and largest city, on a reporting trip. This afternoon, he sent The Two-Way a dispatch and several photographs:

Spent the day with African Union soldiers who are defending a weak government in Mogadishu with its back against the wall. Al-Shabab, a violent Islamist group, controls most of the city and is trying to overthrow the U.S.-supported regime here.

As you can see from the photos, the extent of the destruction is astonishing: empty pockmarked buildings as far as the eye can see.

We spent part of the afternoon with African Union troops, walking and climbing through half a mile of abandoned homes where they had set up positions and were trading sniper fire with the insurgents.

One of the things that was so striking is you could tell the homes had once been magnificent. They were three or four stories high, with lovely tile floors. But now the walls are like Swiss cheese from all the shooting, and the tile floors are specked or smeared with blood.

The battle for Mogadishu is a grinding, house-by-house war with no end in sight.

You can see more of Frank's photos after the jump.

Downtown Mogadishu, such as it is. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Frank Langfitt/NPR

An African Union sniper, from Uganda. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Frank Langfitt/NPR

Some kids on the streets of Mogadishu, as seen from an armored personnel carrier.  Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Frank Langfitt/NPR

This is a "technical," one of the converted pickup trucks for which Somalia is notorious. The crew is a militia, allied with African Union Forces. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Frank Langfitt/NPR

This is where the Somali parliament used to meet. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Frank Langfitt/NPR