Mogadishu’s streets: Disarming a city overrun with guns

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – In an effort to restore stability in Somalia’s capital, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced a ban on carrying weapons in the streets of Mogadishu.

In addition to prohibiting military gear imports, the new regulations also seek to combat the widespread presence of firearms in the city.

During a Friday prayer sermon at his presidential compound, President Mohamud declared that carrying guns in Mogadishu’s streets would no longer be allowed.

“One cannot justify having machine guns mounted on vehicles and rocket-propelled grenades in the streets for protection from a hiding al-Shabab militant armed with a pistol,” he stated.

The president warned that those who failed to comply would face the consequences, as the government would “fight against those who fail to abide by the measures.”

Import restrictions on military gear

Mohamud also banned the import of all kinds of military equipment, from uniforms to boots.

“No businessman can bring any military gear into the country, let alone weapons. The traders cannot even import Abdi Bile vehicles in the country,” he said.

The Abdi Bile, named after a Somali American runner, is a popular Toyota pickup model often used to mount self-propelled anti-aircraft guns in Somalia.

General Mohamed Farah Aliyow, a veteran Somali military general and Toronto-based security analyst, sees this move as a significant step toward restoring stability in Mogadishu.

The city has lacked a reliable security plan since the collapse of the Siad Barre military regime in 1991.

Business owners, government officials, and lawmakers have employed heavily armed security teams to protect their lives and properties in recent years.

This has resulted in a city overrun with firearms despite decreased open sales.

Offensive against Al-Shabab

The announcement of the weapons ban came hours after government media declared the second phase of the government’s war with al-Shabab militants in the Hiran region of Central Somalia.

Last week, officials reported the conclusion of an eight-month-long military operation against the militants.

On Friday, the Somali National Army, supported by local clan militias, seized control of several villages in the Hiran region.

Hiran regional governor Ali Jeyte Osman stated, “The liberated areas have been hideouts of al-Shabab militants, but not strong bases; we will pursue them to their strongholds in the West of Beledweyne town.”

The Somali government claimed that between August 2022 and January 2023, 3,000 al-Shabab militants were killed and 3,700 injured, with 70 towns and villages liberated.

However, the militant group argued that the first phase of military operations had failed.

Independent sources have not been able to confirm the claims of either side, particularly regarding the number of casualties.

In a March interview with VOA’s Somali Service, Hussein Sheikh Ali, the national security adviser for the Somali president, disclosed that Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya would send new troops to support Somali forces against al-Shabab in the second phase of military operations.

The timeline for their arrival remains uncertain.