MOGADISHU, 25 April 2021 – Rival factions of the Somali armed and security forces faced off in gun battles Sunday in the capital, Mogadishu.
The fighting appeared to be concentrated around the presidential palace, with factions firing heavy weapons and mortars.
Clashes spread beyond the vicinity of the presidential palace.
Local media reports said warlords joined in the clashes.
Reports said the clashes involved supporters and opponents of the Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed aka Farmaajo.
Last week, Farmaajo signed into law a controversial bill passed by parliament granting himself a two-year extension of his presidential term which expired last February 8.
Officials of the African Union, who are opposed to unconstitutional governments, and the United Nations, who have appealed for compromise in order to organize elections decried the term extension.
It remained unclear at the close of business Sunday if any casualties had been recorded as a result of the clashes.
Caasimada Online, an independent news portal, reported Sunday evening that opposition supporters had taken to street protests, chanting their opposition to the extension of the presidential term.
Pro-government forces attacked the homes of Somali opposition leader Abdirahman Abdishakur and former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed, according to news reports.
Somalia’s security minister, Hassan Hundubey Jimale, accused unnamed foreign countries of being behind the clashes.
Jimale claimed that government forces had repelled attacks by organized militia groups reportedly sent to Mogadishu to create chaos.
“People who do not care for their people and country have organised militias, refused to listen to peace overtures, and attacked Mogadishu today,” the minister said in a televised statement.
He claimed that after attempts to defuse the situation peacefully, Somali forces had been compelled to use violence to repel the assailants.
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council joined the European Union and the United States in calling on Somali leaders to compromise in order to organize delayed elections as soon as possible.
The Security Council said the political deadlock over elections was sapping attention from more serious issues that Somalia should be tackling, including addressing the coronavirus pandemic, Islamist militancy, and fighting an invasion by desert locusts.