New details have emerged over clashes in the Somali port city of Kismayo where soldiers loyal to the local administration clashed with new rebellious military recruits who were hired to strengthen the security of the region which is struggling to flush out fighters loyal to the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group that are still active in surrounding areas, official say.
According to Abdirashid Jire, the finance minister for the Jubbaland administration who spokes to Hiiraan Online by phone, the clashes on Saturday started after security forces started a manhunt against a dozen soldiers accused of killing a traditional elder in the town, leading to clashes that have seen businesses closed and residents fleeing for fear of their lives.
The minister also noted that troops acting upon intelligence tipoffs about ‘suspicious movements and mobilization by the rebellious soldiers who had reportedly refused of an order by their commanding officer to return to their camps for questioning launched the attack, after a new security directive banning the presence of armed soldiers across the city, something opposed by the soldiers in question who have since started mutiny.
According to the new directive by the local administration, only specific units of the security forces with special uniforms would be allowed to carry with their arms throughout the town in order to prevent militants disguised as soldiers from infiltrating the town.
Local media initially reported that the clashes pitted security forces against armed clan militias. However, local officials have dismissed reports saying that the clashes broke out between rebellious soldiers and the region’s security forces instead and killed only one person as opposed to four people initially reported by local media outlets.
The victim has been identified as a local traditional elder who officials said was shot dead by the rebellious soldiers during the clashes, according to Mr. Jire.
“They have surrendered to the security forces after brief clashes.” Mr. Jire said, noting that one security officer has also been injured during the clashes.
The regional troops have later arrested the mutinous soldiers who may face mutiny charges amid reports that they have refused to identify the certain soldier among them behind the fatal shooting of the traditional elder.
“All of them may face murder and mutiny charges should they fail to identify the soldier among them who shot dead the elder.” The minister said in a telephone interview with HOL on Sunday.
If found guilty, they could face a range of punishments from dismissal from the army to death penalty.