MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- An enraged crowd dragged the body of an Ethiopian soldier through the streets of Somalia's capital Thursday after gun battles with Islamic insurgents killed 19 people, witnesses reported.
In a brutal echo of a 1993 battle involving Somali militias in which the bodies of U.S. troops were dragged through the streets, crowds Thursday shouted "God is great" as they pulled the bruised, bullet-riddled corpse through a dusty Mogadishu neighborhood.
The body was bound hand and foot with wire and wrapped in a sheet of plastic when insurgents pulled it out of a car and left it with the crowd in the northern Mogadishu neighborhood of Suqa Holaha, witnesses reported.
Nine Ethiopians are reportedly part of the 19 dead.
Another battle broke out on the city's south side Thursday morning between Ethiopian troops and insurgents armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The fighting drove hundreds more people from their homes, on top of the tens of thousands aid agencies say have fled in recent weeks.
"Ethiopians will launch violent attacks on us, for some of their comrades have been killed today," said Rahma Nor Omar, an elderly woman in the capital. "They will be like wounded animals."
Witnesses put the death toll from the day's clashes at 19, including Ethiopian troops, insurgents and civilians.
Ethiopian troops arrived in Somalia in December 2006 to help a weak Somali government drive the Islamic Courts Union out of Mogadishu and restore a U.N.-backed transitional government after a decade and a half of near-anarchy. The Islamists responded by launching an insurgency against Somali government and Ethiopian troops that has lasted nearly a year.
The United States accused the ICU of harboring suspected al Qaeda figures, including three men wanted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and raised no objections to Ethiopian presence in Somalia.
Washington has long been concerned that Somalia could turn into a safe haven for terrorists, but ICU leaders denied harboring al Qaeda suspects. E-mail to a friend