Somalia: Government should hunt down gunmen
Government should hunt down gunmen
Somalia Research Report editorial
I strongly encourage the journalists to take their guns and protect themselves. There is no one protecting them. It is time to defend ourselves . To be a journalist in Somalia is very dangerous with more than 8 journalists killed this year .”Osman Abdullah Guure, director of radio Kulmiye in Mogadishu.
The assassination of the Abdi Jeylaani Malaaq ( Marshaale) who was a talented comedian makes many people realise that Al Shabaab gunmen in Mogadishu will not spare the life of anyone who is not in their camp. For the last five months journalists, elders and engineers were assassinated in areas that Al Shabaab once controlled. Assassination is method Al Shabaab uses ; it is second to its most lethal method: suicide bombing.That Al Shabaab has assassins in Mogadishu is not secret. Yesterday security forces shot dead two men. Each carried a fake, photo-stated ID to pretend to be a delegate attendting the constitutional conference in Mogadishu. The capability of Somali security forces to prevent suicide bombing is improving but the same can not be said about their capability to prevent targeted assassinations.
How can the government be serious about protecting its citizens if it cannot answer a simple question: why has the government failed to enforce a law against illegal weapons in areas under its control? For a non-Al Shabaab member in Al Shabaab-controlled area to carry a gun means to risk accusation of robbery ( Al Shabaab cuts limbs of robbers).
For the government to protect its people against assassins it ought to start security measures aimed at identifying Al Shabaab gunmen. All assassinations have had similar patterns: two or three gun-men shooting someone near his house ( most victims are men) then run from the scene of the murder. Government ought to collect data on assassinations ( the time, victims, number of perpetrators and neighbourhoods) . The security forces ought to conduct random searches, form units tasked with collecting intelligence about areas with high rate of illegal gun use.
In the past soldiers were executed for robbery or murder. This is not a call to execute anyone carrying an illegal gun. A person carrying an illegal gun is more likely to commit robbery ; a group of two or three men carrying illegal guns are more likely to assassinate someone. What is the point of government leaders having body guards when journalists, comedians and civil servants are easily targeted by Al Shabaab assassins in government-controlled areas ? Random searches and zero tolerance for illegal weaponry users is a strategy the Somali government has not used so far. The case for such a security policy is stronger if Somali leaders want to take their obligation towards the security of citizens seriously.
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