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Somali security forces arrest ex-presidential candidate in raid

Security forces in Somalia have arrested a former presidential candidate and an outspoken government critic accused of committing “treason” against Mogadishu.

Abdiasis Ali, a spokesman for the Somali Internal Security Ministry, made the announcement at a news conference on Monday, saying Abdirahman Abdishakur, a candidate in the February presidential election and the former planning minister, had been arrested after an overnight raid on his home and clashes with his bodyguards.

“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,” the spokesman said, declining to provide further details.

Reports said that five bodyguards had been killed and that Abdishakur had been slightly injured during the raid.

A policeman and a local elder confirmed the number of fatalities in an interview with Reuters, noting that the former minister had been injured on the arm by a stray bullet.

The overnight raid on Abdishakur’s residence drew condemnation from some politicians in the Horn of Africa nation.

“What the government is doing is against Islam and healthy politics,” lawmaker Mahad Salad told Reuters. “We condemn the government’s immoral act. We also order for the release of the ex-minister.”

The Somali Public Prosecutor’s Office had previously claimed that Abdishakur’s house was a hub for the opposition and a gathering point for people “who want to collapse the government.”

The attorney general of Somalia, Ahmed Ali Dahir, had also accused two other lawmakers of treason a day earlier, calling for the removal of their immunity for prosecution.

The presidential election in February was won by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, whose UN-backed government is still struggling to expand its authority beyond the capital and other selected areas.

This file photo show al-Shabab militants in the town of Elasha Biyaha, southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. (Via AFP)

The new administration also faces growing pressure over its failure to put an end to Takfiri militancy.

Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants since 2006.

The Takfiri militant group was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out attacks against government, military, and civilian targets in Mogadishu and regional towns.

More than 500 people lost their lives in twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu in October.

Al-Shabab launched a bombing attack on a Mogadishu police academy last week, killing at least 18 people and injuring 20 others.

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