A Somali General’s arrest triggered armed clashes and subsequent civil unrest in Mogadishu. Fighting between the Somali Military Police and a group of approximately 25 soldiers loyal to General Sheegow started when the police attempted to arrest the former military commander. The police forces, led by the Banadir Regional Commander Moalim Mahdi, eventually arrested General Sheegow unharmed.
Mogadishu, SOMALIA. By Jama & Dalmar:
The clashes happened overnight from Friday, August 18, to Saturday, August 19. According to the Somali Digest’s sources, the battle occurred in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district and lasted about 10 hours. It ended on Saturday morning, leaving at least three people dead and several others injured.
The forces that attacked General Sheegow’s house recorded a video of the arrest and posted it on social media. It shows the General’s hands tied and the troops chanting “Shute, Shute,” referring to Hassan Ali Nur Shute, the chairman of the Somali National Armed Forces military court system.
The police spokesperson said that General Sheegow is no longer part of the army, paving the way for imposing charges on him. These could reportedly include money laundering, robbery and causing insecurity in the Dharkenley district.
General Sheegow opposed the 2020 military reform and left the country. He joined Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s political group, which was at that time in the opposition. Paradoxically, the forces loyal to the current Somali President now arrested him.
Large protests in Mogadishu
Following his arrest, protests against his detention erupted in Somalia’s capital on Saturday. The protesters, many carrying sticks and stones, marched along the central Mogadishu roads, forcing businesses to close in fear of violence.
The protesters chanted the General’s name, believing the authorities detained him unfairly and demanding his immediate release. Witnesses in different areas of Mogadishu heard gunshots as the protesters clashed with security forces that tried to contain them.
Some observers believe his arrest has a connection to his ethnic background, as Sheegow is a Bantu. Bantu is the largest marginalised group in Somalia. The members often complain that the majority treats them as second-class citizens in their own country. We interviewed residents in Mogadishu who told us that the protesters also hailed mainly from the Bantu.
Mogadishu Airport shelling was unrelated
The Friday night clashes were reportedly the most serious incident between two government security factions in Mogadishu since President Hassan Sheikh’s election last year.
Some media reported that the clashes, which lasted until Saturday morning, included mortar shelling of the Aden Adde International Airport. However, as the Somali Digest learned, it was a separate incident and should be attributed to the extremist group al-Shabaab.