At least five people were killed Saturday in Mogadishu, during militant demonstrations in the Somali capital after the murder of a driver of a tuktuk, or motorized rickshaw, by security forces.
The protesters burned tires and chanted slogans against government security forces. Demanding justice and freedom, they shouted, “Down with the civilian’s killers!”
A driver and a passenger and at least three other protesters were killed by security forces. It was not clear whether the demonstrators were shot by police or by private security guards from local firms.
Most of the protests occurred near the main Bakara market on the south side of the city.
Over the last three years, security forces have killed more than 20 tuktuk drivers in Mogadishu.
More than 20,000 young people directly or indirectly depend on the tuktuk business, said Mohamed Abdi, 19, a tuktuk driver. “If the government does not solve the challenges we face, our last resort might be forcing it in some way or another,” he said.
Another protester, Ali Nur, 22, was among hundreds of Somali migrants who were repatriated to Mogadishu from Libya months ago. He said this business was the only opportunity available to him, although it is dangerous and even deadly.
“We constantly face soldiers holding their guns improperly, and sometimes they aim their guns at us,” he said. “In several cases, they pull the trigger as they conduct security checks, killing an innocent tuktuk driver.”
The Mogadishu drivers shared videos on social media that show their challenges, including government soldiers blocking the city’s main roads, as well as other soldiers who they say extort money from them.
But Saturday’s protests erupted after one such video showed a government soldier, who was manning one of the city’s security checkpoints, fatally shooting a young driver and a passenger.
In the face of brutality of security forces in Somalia, only militant action can ensure that the state will not continue to murder with impunity.