updated 4/25/2007 2:39:46 PM ET 2007-04-25T18:39:46

A missile hit the roof of a children’s hospital that was packed with civilians wounded in fighting between Islamic insurgents and Ethiopian troops allied to the Somali government, an official said.

The shell exploded in a ward housing 20-30 wounded adults, said Wilhelm Huber, regional director for the SOS Children’s Villages. The children had already been evacuated because shells were hitting the compound, Huber said.

“What is happening now cannot go on,” Huber told The Associated Press.

He said he did not believe the hospital had been deliberately targeted but that it clearly came from government forces because the insurgents do not have missiles.

“People are desperate,” Huber said. “This is a tragic situation.”

Earlier in the day, civilians were caught in the crossfire as the government’s Ethiopian backers used tanks and heavy artillery to pound insurgent strongholds, witnesses said.

Ethiopian military officials met with elders of Mogadishu’s dominant clan to try to broker a peace, said Abdullahi Sheik Hassan, a spokesman with Mogadishu’s powerful Hawiye clan. Hundreds have been killed in eight straight days of fighting.

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