Somali government takes over security of key central town

The Somali Federal Government has formally taken over the security of the central Somalia town of Dusamareb.

The handover ceremony, overseen by the Galmudug reconciliation committee, took place in the town today and was attended by Somali Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Duale Islow, Interior Minister Abdi Mohamed Sabriye, Galmudug Chief Minister Sheikh Shakir and the commanders of the country’s security agencies.

Sheikh Shakir, who is also the leader of the moderate Islamist group Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, said the group has now formally handed over security responsibility of the town to the federal government.

He said a joint force drawn from the Somali army and recently integrated former Ahlu Sunnah fighters will be in charge of security in the town.

The development comes after disagreements recently emerged between the Ahlu Sunnah leadership and the federal government, which had been trying to take control of the situation in the region.

Ahlu Sunnah had reportedly raised complaints over the salaries of its fighters who were integrated into the national army, saying they were not being paid according to their ranks.

The dispute led to the group taking over security of the Dusamareb airport and preventing planes from Mogadishu from landing.

Control of Dusamareb, the official capital of the Galmudug regional state, will give the federal government a measure of influence over the state’s politics.