Rival militias put gov’t officials under house in Beledweyne

BELEDWEYNE (SD) – Unknown number of federal and state government officials were placed under house arrest after notorious militias identified themselves as Hiiraan Salvation Army took control of Beledweyne town of central Somalia on Sunday evening.

Heavily armed militias commandeered by Col. Abdullahi Barre Elmi, a Somali National Army commander who was recently sacked have stormed the town to protest against plans by Hirshabelle leader, Ali Gudlawe to visit the town.

Col. Elmi was formerly the head of SNA in the Hiiraan region before being stripped of his duties amid allegations that the Colonel was against president Gudlawe.

The forces took control of the regional and district administration offices as well as hotels hosting former HirShabelle President Ali Osoble, Hirshabelle state, deputy president Yusuf Dabageed and other officials.

Col. Elmi said in a press conference the decision was taken to ‘save the region.’

“We cannot take the insult of those who say we will bring Gudlawe here by force. To the military, you should be part of this,” the former army man said.

An hour after the takeover, hundreds of residents supporting the forces took several streets of the town to protest against the planed visit of the Hirshabelle leader.

Another former SNA commandant General Ali Huud who has been leading a separate faction against the Gudlawe administration, is reportedly taking charge of the airport in support of the forces led by Elmi.

Hud and his faction are protesting the election of Ali Guudlaawe as the president of HirShabelle arguing his election violated clan power matrix which dictated a new president should have come from Hiiraan region.

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