Tue, Jun 24, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Gunmen murder peace activist in Somali capital


Gunmen killed a Somali peace activist in a central region on Sunday, colleagues said, the latest in a string of attacks against aid and rights workers in the shattered African nation.

Mohamed Hassan Kulmiye, a senior official with Mogadishu-based Center For Research and Dialogue (CRD), was shot dead in Beledweyne town, the capital of the Hiraan region.

“He was killed an hour ago inside his office, but we do not know the motive of the murder,” said one of his CDC colleagues who requested anonymity.

Several witnesses confirmed his death.

The CDC, a local charity that promotes social, economic and political development, was involved in the UN-mediated talks between the government and opposition groups in Djibouti, which ended in a truce agreement on June 9.

Kulmiye’s killing occurred a day after gunmen kidnapped Hasan Mohamed Ali, a Somali working with the UN refugees agency, at his residence in Elashabiyaha, south of the capital Mogadishu.

“We don’t know where they took him after snatching him from his house at around 8:44pm last evening,” another Somali UN official said who also requested anonymity.

“I saw four men armed with machine guns talking to him in front of his house and minutes later they kidnapped him,” said Farah Abdi Mohamed, a neighbor.

Since April, gunmen have been holding five aid workers — two Italians, a Briton, a Kenyan and a Somali — all seized in southern Somalia.

The same month, the UN and aid groups scaled down operations in Somalia because of increased insecurity.

This was largely blamed on Islamist militants, who have waged a deadly guerrilla war since they were ousted by joint Somali-Ethiopian forces early last year.

At least 2.6 million Somalis are facing hunger because of acute food shortages spurred by a prolonged drought, insecurity and high inflation.

UN famine monitors have warned that the figure could hit 3.5 million by year’s end.

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