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Anger At Somali Face Veil Burning
Niqabs and burkas have become more popular in recent years
Mogadishu, May 09, 2007 – Two hand grenades have gone off in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, where government soldiers were confiscating and burning face veils worn by women.
A BBC correspondent says one woman was injured in the explosions at a junction near the city's main Bakara market.
Eyewitnesses say soldiers were ordering women in burkas to remove their face veils on Tuesday, but the operation was later stopped by their superiors.
Wearing of face veils was encouraged by the Islamists ousted last December.
Correspondents say traditionally Somali women tend to just cover their heads, but in recent years burkas - which cover the entire face and body - and niqabs - a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear - have become more popular.
The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) which ruled much of southern Somalia for six months last year were driven from power by Ethiopian-backed government forces.
Last month, Mogadishu experienced its worst fighting in 16 years as the government soldiers and insurgents battled for control.
The government says it has now defeated Islamist fighters and the new mayor of Mogadishu is trying to stamp his authority on the city.
Eyewitnesses says people became angry when government soldiers began burning the face veils, saying it was a religious violation.
The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says women were fearful of leaving their homes wearing veils on Wednesday morning.
However, as news spread that it was not an officially sanctioned operation, they have felt more confident about going out into the streets.
Meanwhile, the demolitions of illegal structures has entered a second day.
Mogadishu 's mayor, former warlord Mohamed Dheere, said the exercise was to boost security and clean up the city.
Last Friday he banned people from carrying weapons on the streets and gave a 15-day ultimatum for illegal buildings to be removed.
Our correspondent says piles of rubble and corrugated iron sheets can be seen in the city.
Some people have begun demolishing their own buildings.
"I have been running a small tea-shop but I have destroyed it," a widow with four children told the BBC.
"Now I have nothing to support my family," she said.
Thousands of people who make a living from similar small-scale businesses in the city are being affected by the demolitions, our reporter says.