Rival Somali army groups in fight


Rival groups from Somalia’s army shot at each other in Mogadishu, with one group trying to storm a training centre the United Arab Emirates left behind after it ended a training programme there, soldiers and residents said.

The clash indicates the difficulty of rebuilding unified security forces for a state where centralised authority collapsed in 1991 and an internationally backed government, elected last year, faces huge challenges.

It was another sign of the fallout from a crisis in the Gulf region that has spilled into the volatile Horn of Africa.

The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an Islamist insurgency and secure the country for the government backed by Western countries, Turkey and the United Nations.

The Gulf nation ended its programme in Somalia this month after Somali security forces seized millions of dollars and temporarily held a UAE plane.
“Some Somali military forces attacked us at the base, they wanted to loot it but we repulsed them,” Ahmed Nur a soldier trained under the discontinued programme, told Reuters.

After 90 minutes of sporadic gunfire, the training facility was secured by presidential palace guards, a Reuters journalist said.

Some UAE-trained Somali soldiers fled, said Abdirahman Abdullahi, a second soldier also trained under the programme: “Most of my colleagues jumped over the wall and ran away with their guns. Others left their guns and ran away and so I had to.”

Residents saw UAE trained forces discarding military uniforms and fleeing the facility in three-wheeled rickshaws with guns in their laps.

Somalia’s relations with the UAE have been strained by a dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The UAE is part of a group of Arab states including Saudi Arabia that has ostracised Qatar. Countries on both sides of the dispute have influence in Somalia. Mogadishu refrained from taking sides.