Somalia fires heads of police force and military

Sun Dec 6, 2009 11:05am EST
 
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By Abdi Guled and Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's government fired the head of its police force and its military chief on Sunday two days after a suicide bomber killed three ministers and several others in the capital of the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

Ministers had already been debating for several weeks about replacing the two men to bolster security before a government spokesman announced the sacking of police commander Abdi Hassan Awale and military commander Yusuf Hussein.

"Ali Mohamed Hassan, a former ambassador was appointed as the police commander while Mohamed Gelle Kahiye, a senior military colonel was also appointed as Somali military commander," Abdi Haji Gobdon told Reuters.

Hassan was sacked in 2007 and replaced by Awale. Hussein had been at his post for close to a year.

"The prime minister and his cabinet have agreed to make these changes to tackle the security problems in Somalia."

Neighbouring Kenya has stepped up police patrols in Eastleigh, a Nairobi suburb, which is predominantly populated by ethnic Somalis, residents said. Thursday's hotel bombing in Mogadishu heightened concerns about the Somalia's ability to destabilize the whole region.

"Police have arrested more than 80 people in the last two days, Somalis and non-Somalis. They are arresting everyone who does not have immigration papers," Hussein Mohamed, deputy head of Eastleigh Business Association told Reuters.

"It seems there is a fear that fighters from Somalia may infiltrate the people and attack Nairobi."   Continued...