Somalis cheer at 'Black Hawk Down' screening
From Jeff Koinange
MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- Somalis watching a bootleg video of "Black Hawk Down" on Monday cheered as helicopters crashed and U.S. servicemen were killed in the new movie.
Just days after the film's widespread release in the United States, hundreds of Somalis crowded into an outdoor playground Monday to watch one of the first bootleg copies to reach Somalia.
The film, which was No. 1 at the U.S. box office over the weekend, depicts the ill-fated 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in which 18 American soldiers were killed.
The United States was in Somalia to try to capture powerful Somali warlord Mohammed Aidid from his stronghold in the war-torn capital and take him to a ship anchored off the nearby coast. But by the end of the 16-hour battle in which commandos tried to seize several of Aidid's top lieutenants, 18 elite Army Rangers and hundreds of Somalis lay dead in the streets of Mogadishu.
At the screening, Somalis paid the equivalent of 10 U.S. cents to watch the movie, less than a mile from where a real Black Hawk helicopter went down.
Audience members seemed to take delight in scenes of U.S. defeat. Each time an American chopper went down in the film, the audience cheered. Every time an American serviceman was killed, the audience cheered some more.
Ahmed Abdullah said he witnessed the actual battle and saw the movie as more fiction than fact.
"It's not fair what the U.S. is trying to do," he said. "What I saw that day was different from what I see in the film today. It's not accurate."
Others said the movie brings back disturbing memories of a day they'll never forget.
"I felt very sad watching the film," one woman said.
Some in the audience said they were proud of the way Somalis were portrayed in the film. They said they believe they were defending their country and their pride against what they considered U.S. military aggression.
U.S. officials have said they are concerned that members of al Qaeda, the terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden, could try to regroup in Somalia so the country may be a possible next target in the war on terrorism.
But some audience members had a warning for the United States.
"As you can see, Somalis are brave fighters," one man said. "If the Americans come back to fight us, we shall defeat them again."
Said another, "Let them try again. They'll be making more films about us when we defeat them like we did that day."
U.S. seeks allies against terror in Somalia
January 13, 2002
'Black Hawk' a letdown
December 28, 2001
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