Somali Peace Activist Shot Dead
Published on Monday, July 11, 2005 by the BBC
Somali Peace Activist Shot Dead
by Leonardo Aldridge
 
A prominent Somali peace activist has been shot dead by unknown gunmen at his home in the capital, Mogadishu.

Through his Centre for Research and Dialogue, Abdulkadir Yahya Ali tried to resolve Somalia's 14-year civil war.

Witnesses said about five attackers handcuffed his security guards, cut off the phone lines and shot him in front of his wife.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the killing has shocked the city's residents.

Al-Qaeda

The co-director of the Centre for Research and Dialogue (CRD) Jabril Abdulle told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that Mr Yahya had turned down the chance to leave Somalia because he wanted to help rebuild the country.

He said he was the first person to arrived after the shooting, which happened at 0230 local time (2330GMT on Sunday).

"As soon as I got there, I saw Yayha lying [outside] his house, while his wife was inside crying," he said.

Mr Yahya was buried on Monday morning.

In a report published over the weekend, the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank said Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda were suspected of involvement in the apparent assassination of four aid workers and 10 former police or military officers in the past two years.

Mr Jabril denied reports that the CRD worked with the ICG.

But he said that those behind the killing may have thought this and killed Mr Yahya because of this "misunderstanding".

In its report, the ICG said: "Since 2003, Somalia has witnessed the rise of a new, ruthless independent jihadi network with links to al-Qaeda."

"In the rubble-strewn streets of the ruined capital of this state without a government... al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed counter-terrorism networks are engaged in a shadowy and complex contest waged by intimidation, abduction and assassination," the ICG said.

'Optimist'

United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Maxwell Gaylard, expressed shock at Mr Yahya's death.

"Yahya was a committed advocate for peace and reconciliation, and his optimism never faltered," Mr Gaylard said in a statement from Kenya.

"This is a great loss to Mogadishu and Somalia at this particular time when people of his courage and tenacity are most needed."

A government set up after more than two years of talks in Kenya is deeply divided.

President Abdullahi Yusuf says that Mogadishu is too dangerous and wants the government to be based in the town of Jowhar.

But the speaker of parliament, Sharif Hasan Shaykh Adan, and the warlords who control Mogadishu and who have been named as government ministers, insist that the government must be based in the capital.

Last week, Mr Yusuf told the BBC that he would soon start to head south from his northern stronghold collecting troops and militia as he goes, raising fears of fighting between the two sides.

© 2005 BBC News

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