Somalia’s security forces have shot dead a 31-year-old government minister after mistaking him for a militant Islamist, officials have said.He was killed in his vehicle near the presidential palace in the capital, Mogadishu, the officials added.
The president has cut short his visit to Ethiopia following Abdullahi Sheikh Abas’ killing, state radio reports.
He grew up in a refugee camp, and became Somalia’s youngest MP in November and a minister in February.
Somalia has been wracked by conflict since the long-serving ruler Siad Barre was outed in 1991.
It is currently battling militant Islamists from the al-Shabab group, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda.
Security forces on patrol came across a vehicle blocking the road and, thinking it was being driven by militants, opened fire, police Major Nur Hussein told Reuters news agency.
Mr Abas was killed “by mistake – they opened fire on his car accidentally. May God rest his soul”, Mogadishu mayoral spokesman Abdifatah Omar Halane was quoted as saying.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo said he had ordered security chiefs to “immediately get to the bottom of this unfortunate tragedy” and make sure the perpetrators were “brought to book”.
Information Minister Abdirahman Osman said several people had been arrested, but did not give details, state-owned Radio Mogadishu reported.
Troops are sometimes nervous, and have previously shot officials – and each other – by mistake, says BBC Somalia analyst Abdullahi Abdi.
But Mr Abas, the public works minister, is probably the most high-ranking official killed by “friendly fire”, he adds.
The president appointed Mr Abas to the cabinet following his surprise election victory in February.
President Farmajo promised to improve security and establish an effective government in Somalia.
Much of the country is still under the control of al-Shabab.
Mr Abas grew up in Dadaab camp in Kenya, home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis who fled drought and conflict.