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Military judge warns SNA against misusing guns in Somalia

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Somali National Army [SNA] troops have been warned against misusing firearms across the country, following emerging reports of increasing cases of violence involving military men, which have raised questions about the relationship between civilians and security forces.

Military courts chief Col. Hassan Ali Nor [Shute] fired warning at the SNA troops when he visited the contingent serving in Balad-Hawo in the Gedo region just within the Kenya-Somalia border. The troops have been guarding the town since February this year when they were first deployed to the scene.

In a tough-worded statement, Col. Shute, who has been handling cases of Al-Shabaab militants and members of SNA accused of gross violation of human rights, insisted that the first duty of the military is to protect innocent civilians from terrorists who have wreaked havoc in the country.

He said that the guns should be used effectively in protecting members of the public instead of antagonizing them. Should anyone be caught going against the law, he added, his department will not hesitate to take stern actions for the sake of civility.

"I wish to remind you that your sole responsibility is to protect civilians and nothing else," said the military chief. "You must use those guns appropriately failure to which, we shall take stern actions which include ensuring you're subjected to trial."

The SNA troops have often been accused of gross violation of human rights especially in Gedo, where they recently clashed with the Jubaland forces in Balad-Hawo, a town that borders Kenya. The troops were deployed in February as differences between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe escalated.

At some point, businesses were disrupted in the town as the two groups clashed for the control of the town. SNA troops have also been facing allegations on gross violation of human rights including but not limited to rape and harassment of business people.

The tough-talking military court chief Col. Hassan Ali Nor [Shute had also convicted Farhan Mohamud Hassan, who has been serving in the SNA, in a prosecution that exposes infiltration in government institutions by the Al-Shabaab militants, who have been wreaking havoc in the war-torn nation for several years.

The convict, in an interview with local media, confessed joining the Al-Qaida linked group in 2010 in the Kenya-Somalia border town of Balad-Hawo, but would later use the Amnesty given by security forces in Somalia to defect, and was later recruited to the SNA to help in fighting former allies.

But intelligence services in Somalia linked him to infiltration of the SNA having investigated his conduct before being arraigned in the military court. The convict was slapped with a life sentence and would spend his entire life behind the bars for breaching confidence and lying to the state.

Shockingly, Farhan Mohamud Hassan admitted helping Al-Shabaab to transport explosives for Al-Shabaab to Manda Bay in Kenya before the January 5 deadly attack at the US Naval Base, which is used in training regional forces from across East Africa.

"I joined Al-Shabaab in 2010 before defecting to the Somali National Army. However, I helped them in transporting explosives to the Manda Airfield where they waged an attack," Mohamed said in a confession that shocked reporters and the senior military court officials shortly after his conviction.

Gedo region has been experiencing both security and political turmoil for several months now and Al-Shabaab has taken advantage of a conflict between SNA and Jubaland forces, who have been clashing over territorial control. The FGS has been battling to galvanize support from the region.