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Robert Cusack

Somalia's youngest minister mistakenly shot dead by security guards

Siraji was popular because of his humble background as a returnee refugee [Twitter]

Date of publication: 4 May, 2017

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Confusion surrounds the death of Somalia's Public Works Minister, Abbas Abdullahi Siraji, after soldiers shot him as he approached the Presidential Palace in his car.
Somalia's minister of public works and reconstruction was shot dead in Mogadishu on Wednesday, after another minister's bodyguards wrongly suspected his vehicle of being a security threat.

Soldiers escorting Somalia's Auditor General Nur Farah reportedly fired on Abbas Abdullahi Siraji's vehicle as he drove towards the Presidential Palace's gates.

Somalia's President Mohammed Abdullahi 'Farmaajo' said on Wednesday he would shorten his state visit to Ethiopia and return to Mogadishu on Thursday.

"I've ordered the security heads to immediately get to the bottom of this unfortunate tragedy and make sure the perpetrators are brought to book," the president's office said on Twitter.

It is believed the bodyguards mistook the minister's car for one belonging to the Islamist rebel group, al-Shabaab, which regularly attacks government targets with car-bombs.

Siraji's vehicle was mistakenly shot at by government security guards outside the presidential palace, a senator, Ilyas Abdulahi, told AFP.

Somalia's Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman tweeted that Siraji had a "full and promising future ahead of him".

Siraji promised to work hard towards Somalia's development at a recent TedX talk in Mogadishu on April 20.

"When we come together as youth, women, elders, everyone, we can build our country and do anything else we want," Siraji said.

"As for my part, I will work for peace, development and for reaching brighter times."

Siraji grew up in the world's biggest refugee camp in Dadaab, north east Kenya, after his family fled Somalia's civil war in 1991. He later acquired a degree in Computer Science at the University of Nairobi.

He was elected an MP in November 2016, beating the then Information Minister Mohammed Abdi Hassan to represent Kismayo in the Jubaland region.

Prime Minister Khaire then appointed Siraji as minister in March.

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