At least 15 people died in violent protests in Somalia’s autonomous South West state after authorities last week arrested Mukhtar Robow, a former top member of the al-Shabaab Islamic extremist group and a candidate for president of the region.
Somali-based Radio Dalsan reported that Ethiopian forces accompanied by Somali police in Baidoa, the region’s capital, arrested and tortured Robow during a raid Thursday. He was then flown to Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Robow announced his candidacy last month, calling it a response to requests from people in the region. He received clearance to run from the electoral commission, but the national government opposed him. The Somali security ministry confirmed his arrest, saying he failed to denounce extremist ideology and mobilized armed forces to threaten regional security.
Somali-based Garowe Online said the casualties of the protests include a regional lawmaker.
Robow, who was the target of a $5 million U.S. bounty, trained in Afghanistan and served as second-in-command for the al-Qaeda-linked group, but had a falling out with its leaders in 2012 over what he called ideological differences. He surrendered last year to the Somali government. —O.O.