MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Calm has returned to Somalia’s capital after clashes erupted during an opposition march on Friday, leaving a number of civilians dead.
Troops loyal to the Somali leader Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose term ended last week, fired on protesters including former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and other opposition politicians, sparking clashes with opposition forces.
Exact number of casualties has not been immediately known, but according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Mogadishu “as many as 20 people may have been killed or wounded” in the exchange of gunfire.
Security forces had sealed off roads across the capital before protesters hit the streets and dispersed opposition supporters marching along the airport highway, using live rounds.
A mortar bomb struck Adan Adde Adde airport during the clashes, damaging a restaurant inside its fence. Both incoming and outbound flights have been later cancelled. Opposition leaders told media that the mortar shell was intended to target them, though the government has not immediately commented on their assertion.
Speaking to press shortly after the fighting, opposition leaders accused security forces of launching an attack in an attempt to assassinate them and described the current leader as a “murderer and war criminal”.
Former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who stayed at a hotel that was raided by Somali special forces on Thursday night has said a coup had been orchestrated by the Somali leader Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo
“What transpired in Mogadishu last night and today is a coup orchestrated by the former president who turned down calls to lead the country to elections,” Hassan Sheikh Mohamud tweeted.
“The federal parliament and the militia commanders who have backed him in the coup will be held accountable for their actions and brought before justice.”
UN mission in Somalia expressed deep concerns about Friday’s clashes in Mogadishu and called for “calm and restraint” by both parties involved.
Puntland regional state described the flare-up as “deplorable” and called for both the government and the opposition to end their tensions through dialogue.
In a statement, the US embassy in Somalia recommended that its citizens avoid downtown Mogadishu after tensions over delayed elections had spiraled out of control.
African Union chairperson Moussa Faki said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned” at the deteriorating security and political situation in Somalia.
Somali Prime Minister’s Statement
Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble stated that he regretted what happened in Mogadishu on Friday morning.
“Peaceful demonstration is a constitutional right, no to armed protest,” the Prime Minister said.
“Election will take place, I say to the public: Do not let the peace you strived for be ruined.”
Electoral talks delayed
Electoral talks between Somali federal and regional leaders were expected to be held in Mogadishu on Friday but have been delayed due to the chaotic incidents that rocked the city.
Earlier, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had called for a meeting with regional state leaders in Mogadishu from February 18-19 to bring an end to a long-standing dispute over the country’s elections.
- Clashes and protests in Mogadishu have delayed electoral talks between the federal government and regional state leaders. Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had earlier called for the talks scheduled to take place in Mogadishu between February 18 and 19. The leaders of Puntland Saeed Deni, Jubaland Ahmed Madobe, Hirshabelle Ali Gudlawe and Galmudug Ahmed Qoorqoor have not yet arrived in the Somali capital.
- Wadajir opposition party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur, who was marching alongside protesters dispersed by government troops in Mogadishu using live rounds, accused Somali leader Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of being thirsty for blood and described him as “murderer, warlord [and] war criminal”.
- Somali former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said: “what transpired in Mogadishu last night & today is a coup orchestrated by the former president [Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo] who turned down calls to lead the country to elections. The FP & the militia commanders who have backed him in the coup will be held accountable 4 their actions & brought before justice.”
- Opposition leaders who were leading a protest near Mogadishu’s Adan Adde airport say several people were killed and a number of others wounded after government troops opened fire to disperse protesters.
- Former prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire has said he, other presidential candidates and MPs survived an “assassination attempt” after government troops used live rounds to break up opposition protest
- Mass protests underway in a number of Mogadishu neighborhoods amid a heavy security presence
- Mortar shell has damaged a restaurant inside Adan Adde airport in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu during armed cashes between opposition forces and government troops.
- UN mission in Somalia’s capital said it was deeply concerned about armed clashes in Mogadishu and called for “calm and restraint” by all the parties involved.
- Security forces have opened fire to disperse large crowd led by opposition leaders including Abdirahman Abdishakur, Hassan Ali Khaire and Abdikarin Guled near Adan Adde airport.
- Flights to Mogadishu’s international airport have been cancelled with reports that parts of the airport has been set alight by gunfire and a plume of smoke has been seen billowing into the sky.
- All main streets are blocked and government troops have been deployed in large numbers
- Residents are being told to stay at their homes and troops fire on vehicles trying to travel through main streets
- Site for the demonstration is under control of government troops after it was earlier taken over by opposition forces
- Somali commandoes raided a hotel where opposition leaders stayed last night, in what opposition alleges that current president wanted to trigger violence.
- Opposition leaders say security forces’ raid on a hotel where two former presidents stayed was an “attempt to assassinate them”
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