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from The New York Times

    March 20, 2001

Dogs Kill Two, Injure 24 in Somalia

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 3:20 p.m. ET

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Dozens of stray dogs believed to be infected with rabies attacked residents of an impoverished Mogadishu neighborhood, killing two children and injuring 24 other people, health officials said Tuesday.

Six children, eight women and 12 men were admitted to the nearby Habeb Hospital with bite wounds, nurse Abdurahman Ali Awaleh said.

Two boys, ages 5 and 6, later died from loss of blood, he said.

``I did not provoke the dog,'' said one of the injured, 11-year-old Dahir Afdhub Hassan, who said he was attacked when he left his house Tuesday. ``I tried to defend myself by both screaming and kicking.''

Hospital officials fear many of the victims will die if infected with rabies, which is fatal unless treated with an expensive course of vaccinations that is not available in Mogadishu.

It was unclear how many dogs were involved in the attacks, but police said it could have been dozens.

Police were patrolling the streets Tuesday to try to prevent further attacks, Inspector Mohamed Hashi Barre said. The bodies of several animals were strewn around the area where police shot them.

Packs of stray dogs have roamed freely in the capital throughout the decade of chaos and violence that followed the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

After toppling Barre, opposition leaders turned their guns on each other, transforming the nation of 7 million people into battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias.

Until the election of a transitional government headed by President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan last August, there was no central authority or police force to control the animals.

Seven other people have been killed in dog attacks since late last year and more than 40 injured. But the latest attack was the worst yet, Awaleh said.

The animals were biting ``whoever they lay their eyes on,'' he said.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

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