Somalia: Jamal Abdi: "There's real panic and confusion in town"

HARGEISA, 30 October 2008 (IRIN) - As security forces investigate the three suicide car-bombs that went off on 29 October targeting a UN compound, the presidential residence and Ethiopian embassy in Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, Jamal Abdi, 22, a local journalist, spoke to IRIN from hospital about the experience:

"Along with other journalists, I had just left the headquarters of UDUB [the Somaliland ruling party], when the first explosion hit the UN compound. As we tried to find out what was happening, a car being driven at very high speed forced its way into the Ethiopian embassy compound and exploded.

"All of a sudden, I was on the ground and everything became dark. I was hit by flying debris and the first thing I remember is my right leg bleeding. But before I could even get up, the third explosion went off in the presidential compound, 20m away.

"By then, I could hardly hear anything, I was in a daze. One of my colleagues was badly hurt, so we were all taken to the hospital.

"Yesterday [29 October] was a dark day for Hargeisa. This is something we have never seen. We hear it on the news but you never expect it to happen to you.

"There's real panic and confusion in town. Everyone is talking about it and wondering what next.

"I am one of the lucky ones. I am still in one piece and my family knows where I am. There are people still buried under the debris and many more with horrific injuries in hospital.

"At the hospital where I am, hundreds of people are looking for relatives they cannot trace. Some find their relatives and you hear the cries of joy but many others go home not knowing what happened to their loved ones.

"The population is really scared and is looking for people to blame. I am afraid they may target the southerners who have sought refuge in Somaliland. That would be tragic."