Govt calls for calm after protests over terrorist chief's arrest
MOGADISHU - Somalia's federal government has called for calm on Mogadishu streets after protesters took to the streets demanding the release of terrorist chief Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, Garowe Online reports.

"Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is in good health and is currently in the custody of the Somali Federal Government," Somali Interior and National Security Minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled told a Tuesday press conference in Mogadishu, adding: "Sheikh Aweys will not be transferred over to any foreign government and we call upon the Mogadishu public to calm down".

Minister Guled warned against "some groups who are inciting the public with false information, and public incitement is a threat to peace, stability and governance".

On Monday, hundreds of people protested in Mogadishu between Banadir and Tarabunka junctions, with protestors shutting down local businesses, chanting anti-government slogans and demanding the release of Sheikh Aweys from prison.

Interior Minister Guled apologized for the violent incident on June 29, when Sheikh Aweys was transported by plane from Adado town in Galgadud region of central Somalia to Mogadishu by a group of parliamentarians, elders and warlords.

Somali security forces at the Mogadishu airport reportedly "used force" to arrest Aweys upon landing at the airport, while the group of parliamentarians, elders and warlords who accompanied Aweys to Mogadishu were "beaten up and arrested" by the security forces, but everyone was released except Aweys.

"This was an unfortunate and unplanned incident, and we apologize to the affected individuals," said Minister Guled.

Aweys escaped to his native region of Galgadud in late June 2013, after Al Shabaab death squads were sent to assassinate senior members of Al Shabaab militant group in Barawe coastal town of Lower Shabelle region, in southern Somalia. Al Shabaab death squads sent by Godane reportedly assassinated other senior Al Shabaab members, including Ibrahim Afghani and Moallim Burhan.
Posted by: Steve White 2013-07-03