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It was a fairly typical day in Mogadishu: from first light automatic rifle fire could be heard and it was soon joined by heavier machine guns and then mortars and artillery. By late afternoon there was a cacophony of booms, bangs and explosions yet my host insisted this was “a quiet day”. It’s been like this for the best part of 20 years, civil war rendering Mogadishu a monument to humanity’s determined capacity for destruction.

There was no Dresden or Hiroshima moment here, no single cataclysm that turned the city to ruins. It has taken years of…

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