MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Combat shook Mogadishu early Friday as government troops launched a dawn attack on a house belonging to a former warlord as part of a disarmament campaign. Seven people died in the violence.
Explosions and gunfire were heard as troops battled militiamen loyal to the former warlord. A Somali intelligence official confirmed the attack on the house and spoke only on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
Killed were four civilians, two militia members and one soldier, said police officer Capt. Mohammed Hussein. Eight people were wounded, he said.
Launched last week, the Somali government’s disarmament campaign is an attempt to reduce the number of weapons in the violence-prone city. The government says some 500 guns were recovered during the first four operations. Friday’s operation was the fifth.
Fatima Ali, a Mogadishu mother of four, said the battle sent everyone in her house to the ground for safety.
“We are very terrified,” she said. “We haven’t heard something like this for some time.”
Mogadishu, a city that once hosted open weapons markets, is awash in guns, and government officials have said the latest disarmament campaign is an attempt to reduce the number of weapons that could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked fighters
But some Somalis believe the campaign is aimed at disarming rivals of the country’s leadership as the country gears up for a proposed 2016 national election.
A proposed disarmament law has been approved by the government’s cabinet but hasn’t yet been voted on by parliament.