Bossaso — The security minister in Somalia's Puntland government has blamed unnamed 'political elements' for Friday's protest in Qardo, provincial capital of Puntland's Karkar region, Garowe Online reports.
Gen. Khalif Issa Mudan, the Puntland security minister, told the BBC Somali section on Saturday that the protest was staged by young children.
"It was a group of children throwing stones and burning a tire. There was no actual message behind the small protest, but some media is claiming the protest was opposition to [Puntland] President [Abdirahman Mohamed] Farole. The situation is very calm as usual in Qardo," said Minister Mudan.
Continuing, Minister Mudan said: "The children simply protested, but some political elements are organizing this behind the scenes," adding that "former Puntland officials who lost their positions" organized the protest.
He explained that a boy and a girl were wounded "when a single bullet went through their legs and both are receiving medical treatment".
Asked whether Puntland police had tear gas or other riot control materials, Minister Mudan unequivocally answered no, while stressing that "the police fired bullets in the air to disperse youth throwing stones".
A delegation led by President Farole arrived in Qardo, hours prior to the early morning protest staged by local youth.
President Farole received a warm welcome in Qardo from local communities and has been engaged in many meetings with local community leaders and government officials.
A Qardo community elder, Islan Mahad Islan Mohamud Islan Elmi held a press conference in Qardo on Saturday and told reporters that President Farole was welcomed in Qardo.
"President Farole has come to visit his country and his people and we welcomed the President," said Islan Mahad, adding that "some groups are sending children to throw stones".
The Puntland leader is expected to continue meetings in Qardo as part of his domestic trip.