In The Crossfire

When rival warlords open fire, a TIME journalist, Somalis and peacekeepers get caught in the middle.

It began with a single shot, the high-pitched crack of an AK-47 near the K-4 roundabout. A company of Nigerian soldiers stationed nearby fanned out across the thoroughfare, weapons at the ready, scanning the surrounding three-story buildings for signs of a sniper. I heard another shot, and the Nigerians opened up with bursts from their automatic rifles. Only then did passing Somali citizens, accustomed to ignoring the occasional bang of a gun, take notice. The rat-a-tat of machine-gun bullets sent a clearer message. Men, women and children started running, their hands in the air, first in one direction and then the...

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