Somali soldiers kill public works minister
Somalia | The shooting comes amid high security tensions in the country
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 5/05/17, 11:40 am
Bodyguards of Somalia’s auditor general mistakenly shot dead a government minister Wednesday amid rising security tensions in the country, security officials confirmed.
Soldiers who were guarding the country’s auditor general shot Abbas Abdullahi Siraji, Somalia’s public works and reconstruction minister. The bodyguards opened fire on the minister’s car at a checkpoint near the palace, according to police captain Mohamed Hussein. The soldiers reportedly wrongly identified Siraji as a security threat. Several of Siraji’s bodyguards were wounded. Another minister in the car survived, according to reporting by Al Jazeera.
Police spokesman Qaasim Ahmed said police have arrested three of the soldiers as they continue to investigate the shooting. The Somali cabinet also fired Nur Farah Jimale, the auditor general, following the shooting.
The 31-year-old Siraji was a former refugee in Kenya and the country’s youngest minister. The United States mission in Somalia in a statement said Siraji represented the best of Somalia’s great potential: “He was a rising star in the Somali government and his death is a loss for the country as a whole.”
Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo cut short a trip to neighboring Ethiopia to attend Siraji’s funeral, describing him as “young, diligent, and patriotic.”
The shooting came amid increasing unrest in Somalia. Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab has carried out a string of attacks targeting government and security officials in response to an announcement by Farmajo declaring war on the terrorist group. In April, he appointed new security officials and gave the insurgents 60 days to surrender. Last month, al-Shabaab car-bombed and killed the country’s education minister.
This week, Farmajo announced the country has a detailed plan to defeat al-Shabaab within two years. The new strategy includes support from regional forces, he said.
Siraji presented at a TEDx event in Mogadishu last month, where he encouraged young people to play their part in rebuilding the country.
“For the future of Somalia and the work required, each of us has a part to play,” Siraji said. “As for my part, I will work for peace, development, and for reaching brighter times.”
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.