Somalia uproar continues after former Al-Shabab No. 2 seized

A Somali official says Ethiopian troops that are part of the African Union forces supporting the Somali government have arrested Mukhtar Robow in Baidoa. (File/AP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Somalia uproar continues after former Al-Shabab No. 2 seized

  • Muhktar Robow was the former No. 2 leader of the Al-Shabab extremist group, who has been a leading candidate for a regional presidency
  • His arrest is seen as a high-profile test of Somalia’s treatment of defectors from the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, Africa’s most active extremist group

NAIROBI, Kenya: A third day of protests began Saturday in Somalia over the arrest of the former No. 2 leader of the Al-Shabab extremist group, who has been a leading candidate for a regional presidency. Officials said at least eight people have been killed so far as angry supporters take to the streets.
The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia in a statement released overnight called for “utmost restraint” after the gunfire-fueled uproar around Muhktar Robow’s arrest on Thursday in Baidoa, and it denied playing any role.
His arrest is seen as a high-profile test of Somalia’s treatment of defectors from the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, Africa’s most active extremist group. Somalia’s government welcomed the defection last year by Al-Shabab’s former spokesman but not his popular candidacy to lead Southwest state, which took some officials by surprise.
Robow was seized by Ethiopian troops accompanied by Somali police, witnesses told The Associated Press. He was flown to the capital, Mogadishu, a Somali intelligence official said. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters or for safety concerns.
Some Somali lawmakers had accused the AU mission of being involved.
Ethiopia’s military, which contributes troops to the AU mission, has not commented. Robow’s arrest could re-ignite old tensions between Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia despite recent diplomatic breakthroughs in the Horn of Africa sparked by Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister.
Somalia’s security ministry confirmed Robow’s arrest, citing the federal government’s earlier ban on his candidacy, which said he had not completed the defection process. The ministry also alleged that Robow had failed to renounce extremist ideology, and accused him of mobilizing armed forces to threaten the security of Baidoa.
Somali officials have announced that the election for the Southwest presidency will go ahead on Wednesday, even after Robow was arrested. His local supporters in Baidoa have loudly protested.
A new joint statement by the United States, more than a dozen countries, the AU mission and the United Nations expresses concern, deploring the violence, urging dialogue and urging all parties to “to respect the integrity of the electoral process.”
Robow’s controversial campaign has further exposed the rift between Somalia’s federal government based in Mogadishu and regional governments, who in recent months have effectively severed cooperation with the capital over multiple grievances.


Eight killed by explosion in Somalia's Mogadishu

Updated 15 June 2019
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Eight killed by explosion in Somalia's Mogadishu

MOGADISHU: A car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament Saturday, killing eight people, emergency workers said, hours after militia executed nine civilians from a clan with suspected links to the extremist Al-Shabaab.
"We have confirmed eight people killed and 16 others wounded in the blast," the private Aamin Ambulance service said.
A second blast on a key road leading to the airport of the Somali capital Mogadishu did not cause any casualties.
The Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attacks saying "they were targeting two checkpoints, one of them along the airport road and (the other) along the road that leads to house of legislators."
Abdulahi Mire, who witnessed the explosion near the parliament building said; "I saw four dead bodies and four others wounded in the blast."
Police sealed off the road and ambulances rushed to the scene, he added.
Local shopkeeper Naimo Ali said the blast was "huge" and destroyed a part of her shop.
"I saw several people strewn in the road and some of them were motionless," she added.
According to security sources the second explosives-laden car a Toyota Noah, was spotted by security forces at a checkpoint. They opened fire and killed a man in the car, which then exploded.
No one was injured in the blast.