Hundreds of armed militiamen loyal to the clan of a late UN staffer who was killed by government troops have for the second time blocked roads and halted businesses in the central town of Beledweyne, demanding the handover of the region’s governor who was accused of being behind the killing.
The development is seen as a very disturbing situation which elders warned may lead to clan warfare in Hiiraan region which has diverse clans who have long maintained peaceful co-existence.
Mahdi Hussein Macow, a field officer with the United Nations’ Mine Action Service (UNMAS) was killed last week after soldiers opened fire on his car in Hawatako locality in the town. Elders in the town called the killing as a ‘murder-for-hire and accused the region’s governor Abdifitah Hassan Afrax who allegedly had personal conflict with the late officer plotted his killing.
“The situation may get nasty if no action is taken soon. Government of presidentHassan Sheikh Mohamud and AMISOM should immediately intervene to avoid bloodshed” One elder in the town who requested anonymity told HOL.
The militiamen have returned to the town’s streets after the governor of the region Abdifatah Hassan Afrah who has taken a temporary refuge at the African Union force base in the town tried to return to his office on Friday.
Ethiopian troops who are parts of the African Union force in the region have stepped aside to intervene the situation, according to local elders.
Mr. Afrah hasn’t so far commented on the killing which was condemned by the African Union and Somali government.
Somalia’s security minister Abdirizak Omar told reporters last week that the government has assigned a special task force to investigate the murder which prompted an outrage in the region.
Mr. Omar said that police arrested two bodyguards for the governor in connection with the killing, urging local elders to avoid instilling tension and tribal conflicts.
Mediation efforts led by local elders are underway; however, the simmering tension is seen as a worrying development which may turn into a full-blown conflict.