AMISOM accused of shelling Marka amidst protests
Mogadishu (Harar24) – Amidst a rise of restlessness and violence in the town of Marka following two days of protests by residents against the AISOM forces, inhabitants have begun to flee from the town.
The protests erupted on Sunday as frustrations of residents reached their limit and took the streets burning tires and chanting slogans against clan militias occupying the city, accusing them of killing, looting and raping residents. The anger of the protests spilled over to the AMISOM forces as residents claimed they backed the clan militias and indiscriminately punished residents whenever an Al-Shabaab orchestrated attack occurred.
“The town is facing catastrophes, the clan militias are killing, looting and raping inhabitants, while AMISOM is supporting this notorious militia” said a local elder, who requested his name to be withheld. “We are expressing our anger and dissatisfaction of the situation in peaceful and legal ways, while AMISOM has responded by shelling our town, destroying our houses and infrastructure, and injuring several people including children” he further said.
Residents and witnesses claim that AMISOM shelled buildings in the Ruziya neighborhood, destroying twelve buildings, including the NationLink telecom building and their generators. Residents further claimed six people were injured. The AMISOM however insisted it hadn’t opened fire or shelled any civilians. “Our job is to aid the Somali army and fight by their side” said their spokesman Col. Ali Hamud. “Our forces remained in their defensive positions and didn’t fire at all or destroy any buildings” he added. However recent pictures published by different local media outlets showed several damaged buildings including houses, schools and medical centers as a result of Amisom shelling in the town.
The government appointed governor of the Lower Shabelle region, Abdulkadir Sidi, who spoke to the local media, accused the protesters of being terrorists and said the protests were organized by Al-Shabaab. “The protesters were rallied by Al-Shabaab terrorists who infiltrated the town, they even waved their flags” he said.
The small seaside town of Marka has been suffering from constant reoccurring conflicts and confrontations since the Somali government and AMISOM took over the town from Al-Shabaab around two years ago, which resulted in the deaths of many civilians, the fleeing of others and paved the way for clan militias to extract retribution and revenge on other clans.