The governor of the central Somali region of Hiiraan has been flown to Somalia’s capital as the government opened a criminal inquiry related to the killing of a UN employee last week, sources said Saturday.
The development comes one day after armed militias from the clan of the late UNMAS staffer Mahdi Hussein Mocow blocked the major roads of the town for the second time on Friday, demanding the handover of the region’s governor Abdifitah Hassan Afrah who was accused of ordering UN staffer’s killing.
Mr. Afrah who has taken a temporary refuge at the African Union force base in the town returned to his office on Friday.
A local elder in Beledweyne who requested anonymity told HiiraanXog that Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has ordered security agencies to fast track the investigation as investigators returned to Mogadishu after days of inquiries in Beledweyne.
The elder said that investigators who were dispatched by the Somali president would question Mr. Afrah in Mogadishu.
Mr. 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 neighborhood 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 development is seen as a very disturbing situation which elders warned could lead to a clan warfare in Hiiraan region which has diverse clans who have long maintained peaceful co-existence.
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 fully blown conflict.