Shooting in Somalia airport as military court prosecutes cases
DOLOW, Somalia - There was a moment of a scare on Monday during the prosecution of criminal cases by the Military Court boss in the Gedo region after suspected militias opened fire in Dolow airport, which is heavily guarded by local troops and those from African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS].
Sources hinted that the shooting was orchestrated by the militia opened to the prosecution of two criminal cases by the defiant Military Tribunal Chairman of the Somali National Army [SNA] Col. Hassan Nor, who is associated with success in the handling of high-profile cases in the country, particularly those with terrorism links.
The intense shooting went on for several hours according to eyewitnesses even in the presence of Ethiopian soldiers attached to the ATMIS team in the Gedo region. For some time, Gedo has been the epicenter of conflicts in the federal republic of Somalia, which is struggling with instability.
According to classified reports which are now in the public domain, the dispute was triggered by the killing of Mohamed Aweys, the commander of the 28th battalion on February 18th in Beled Hawo, after the suspects implanted an explosive device on his bed. The commander was associated with high-profile operations in Jubaland.
After his death, reports further indicate, three men - two officers and a civilian were arrested for the incident and transferred to Dolow for prosecution. However, the civilian suspect died on February 23 while undergoing interrogation, with sources claiming he was waterboarded.
Col. Hassan Nor has been in the town for the prosecution of the case and the first hearing took place today moments before the intense shooting. Hassan Nor is regarded as one of the most disciplined and transparent prosecutors in Somalia, a country without functional civilian courts.
Sources said the officer involved in the interrogation was going to be transferred to Mogadishu on Monday when militias reportedly attacked the airport. At least one person was killed, and several others were injured including a security officer, reports further suggested, in an incident that comes amid intense security operations in the country.
There are reports that at least one of the two officers suspected in the February 18 explosion that killed commander Aweys is also out, complicating the case further. Gedo region has been experiencing relative peace after the exit of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who had picked a war with Jubaland leader Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe.
Military courts in Somalia have been used as the best avenues to deliver justice and only a few individuals survive harsh punishment given in form of verdicts. On many occasions, suspects are slapped with death sentences and only a few manage lenient prison terms according to data collected over years.