MOGADISHU – A shaky calm has returned to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu on Monday morning after a night of deadly clashes between troops loyal to the outgoing president and pro-opposition forces.
Fighting outside the residence of Wadajir opposition party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur lulled late on Sunday night after the prime minister Mohamed Hussein Roble urged a ceasefire in a phone call with opposition leaders. It has come after forces opposed to a decision by the outgoing president to extend his term advanced closer to the presidential compound.
Mr Roble urged former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur to convince their supporters to observe truce and promised to pull back government troops who had launched the attack.
Heavily armed troops, who had been separately trained by Eritrea and Turkey, stormed the house of former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud near Marinayo junction in the north of the city, though Somali Security Minister Hassan Hundubey Jimale denied that soldiers raided Mr Mohamud’s residence.
The former president laid blame for the attack on the country’s embattled president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and said he would take responsibility for the consequences of his aggression.
At least 10 people, including the warring sides, were killed in the fighting with more than 15 others wounded, though authorities have not given details of the exact number of casualties.
Wadajir opposition party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur noted that government troops led by the current police chief Farhan Qarole attacked his house near the busy KM4 junction, just 1 km away from the city’s Adan Adde international airport.
He stated that responsibility for the consequences of the assault will be taken by the outgoing president.
As fighting intensified in the evening, opposition forces fired a number of shells into president Farmajo’s residence and there have been reports that he retreated to a bunker in a nearby compound.
Opposition supporters captured Howlwadag and Wabari police stations, and key junctions along Makka Al-Mukarama road, which is heavily used by government officials, MPs and security forces.
It was a sleepless night for the residents in the capital as the loud explosions from heavy weapons exchanged by the two sides and gunfire set them awake for the whole night. Many fled their homes, leaving behind their belongings while others are planning to move to secure areas on Monday over fears of being caught in the cross-fire again.
Opposition leaders condemned the attacks on former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s residence and the house of Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur. They warned AMISOM and Turkey of getting involved in a civil war and urged them to clarify their position after forces they had trained have been used in attacking critics of Farmajo’s administration.
European Union Envoy to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga called for “maximum restraint” on all sides and threatened that those responsible for the skirmishes will be held accountable.
Opposition forces have set up defense lines near Marinayo junction and closed all roads leading to the former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s residence, in what their commanders say aims to prevent possible attacks by government troops.