16 November 2007

Somalia: Senior Intelligence Official Assassinated Outside Mogadishu Mosque

A Somali intelligence officer was shot and killed outside of a mosque following Friday prayers in a continuation of assassinations targeting government officials in Somalia.

Hassan "Dheere" Abdi was the senior intelligence official in Mogadishu's Yaaqshiid neighborhood, one of the most dangerous areas in the Somali capital.

A lone gunman fatally shot the late Hassan Dheere as soon as he stepped outside the mosque, witnesses said.

The victim was a longtime officer in Somalia's intelligence service and began his career during the Gen. Siad Barre regime, according to those who knew him.

No group has claimed responsibility for the latest assassination, but police sources said this killing is linked to prior assassinations of government personnel in Mogadishu.

Relentless violence has rocked Mogadishu since the beginning of this year when Ethiopian troops deployed into southern Somalia to oust Islamic Courts rulers, who had threatened to overthrow the country's internationally recognized government.

Mohamed Dheere, mayor of Mogadishu

Meanwhile, Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed "Dheere" Omar left the capital on Friday and headed for the town of Baidoa, 250km northwest.

The mayor's 200-person delegation included municipal and regional government officials, lawmakers, clan elders and other various personalities.

Mayor Dheere's trip to Baidoa is aimed at updating President Abdullahi Yusuf on the latest security sweep in Mogadishu, where more than 80 people were killed during Ethiopian-led counterinsurgency operations last week.

The mayor also hopes to have influence on President Yusuf's selection for a new prime minister, after Prof. Ali Mohamed Gedi resigned from the post in October.

Mayor Mohamed Dheere has an individual he wants to be named as the new premier, inside sources tell Garowe Online. Many people remember how Dheere vacated his parliament seat in 2004 so that Gedi could be appointed as the country's prime minister.

The mayor of Mogadishu, himself a former warlord, has close relations with both the Ethiopian government and is seen as a close ally of President Yusuf.

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