x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Somali police chief killed in fighting

The head of police in Somalia's capital Mogadishu is killed, along with seven others, in battles between security forces and insurgents.

Mogadishu's top police commander was among eight killed today in clashes in the volatile Somali capital, witnesses and officials said. A day after a battle left six dead in a northern neighbourhood, fresh fighting erupted in the southern district of Hodan when government forces attacked positions controlled by Islamist insurgents. "There was intense fighting when the security forces engaged those troublemakers this morning. Of course, there were casualties," a Somali police commander told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Mogadishu police boss Ali Said Hassan was among the victims. "The commander of Mogadishu police died in the line of duty," said a senior police official who asked not to be named. "He was a brave officer who has expended tremendous effort to bring peace. He was killed by terrorists," he said. "We are all ready to die to bring peace and fight anti-peace local terrorists and their foreign backers." Other police sources said three other members of the police force were killed in the fighting.

Witnesses also said four civilians in a nearby neighbourhood had died in mortar fire. "I saw the dead bodies of four civilians who were killed by a mortar shell near Holwadag district," local resident Hasan Yusuf said. Nur Adan Ali, another eyewitness, gave the same death toll and added that nine other civilians were also wounded in the same incident. Since insurgent groups launched a major offensive against the administration of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on May 7, intense fighting has killed more than 250 people, civilians and combatants.

More than 122,000 people have also been displaced, according to the UN. * AFP