This week, the BBC published a photographic essay about the ongoing fighting between Ethiopian-backed forces and insurgents in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. One of the notable features of this battle has been the mortar bombardment, so inaccurate that it could as well as been random. The insurgent from the Hawiye clan and the islamic militias remnants of the Islamic Courts of Somalia have been accused of terrorism, but I have a alternate theory.

Hanlon’s Razor teaches us to never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence. Among the pictures in the essay was the following one. Take a good look at it :

Notice anything remarkable ? Does not the blue round look a bit odd if just from the perspective of chromatic harmony ? Actually it is much worse than that, and those among you with some military culture are probably laughing already.

For those not familiar with ordnance color codes, the color blue is the convention for marking inert training rounds. Those rounds are designed to give crews practice in firing and technique of fire without the expense incident to firing HE ammunition. On impact, the practice rounds emit a puff of white smoke. Those round differs from the HE version in color and filler only.

The Ethiopian army and the Darod on the receiving end are surely going to believe in miracles when they are still alive after that mortar round impacts among them in a rather harmless puff of white smoke.

What is that training round doing among live ones is anyone’s guess. If anyone tells the shooters, you can be sure that whoever holds the mortar ammunition stall at Bakara market will at least have to offer them a discount on their next purchase of ordnance…