MOGADISHU: Somali security forces have arrested a former minister and outspoken government critic after clashing with his bodyguards during an overnight raid on his home, the security ministry said on Monday.
Abdirahman Abdishakur was a candidate in a February election won by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed whose UN-backed government faces growing pressure over its failure to put an end to a militant insurgency.
Abdishakur was arrested for treason, a spokesman for the Internal Security Ministry Abdiasis Ali told reporters at a news conference, without giving more details.
He also declined to comment on reports that five bodyguards were killed and that Abdishakur had been lightly injured during the raid.
“The former minister was legally arrested by decree from the attorney general and internal security minister. He was accused of treason. His guards fought the security forces,” he said.
A policeman and a local elder told Reuters earlier that five bodyguards were killed during the raid. The elder, Abdullahi Ali, also said Abdishakur had been injured on the arm by a stray bullet.
At the same news conference on Monday, Attorney General Ahmed Ali Dahir described Abdishakur’s house as a hub for the opposition and a gathering point for people “who want to collapse the government.”
“We also warn those who meet at hotels,” he added. Many Somali officials including lawmakers live in fortified hotels for the security they offer.
Before Sunday’s raid Dahir had accused two other lawmakers of treason, prompting Abdishakur to post an angry response on Facebook.
“Let lawmakers be strangled, let their immunity be removed: This is a hopeless attack which portrays despair.”
The raid drew condemnation from other politicians.