A Somali minister was killed during a shootout between two sets of government bodyguards on the streets of Mogadishu on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera reported that Abbas Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji—who was Somalia’s minister for public works and the country’s youngest MP—was killed after his bodyguards mistook a convoy carrying Somali Auditor General Nur Farah for a security threat.
When they opened fire on Farah’s vehicle, his own security team fired back and Siraji was killed in the crossfire.
Siraji became Somalia’s youngest MP in 2016 when he was elected at the age of 31. He had spent most of his life in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
Tensions are high in Mogadishu, due to attacks carried out by the Al-Shabab terror group. The militants, who are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, ramped up attacks after rejecting Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ’s offer of an amnesty in April.
The president—known as Farmajo—had given the militants 60 days to surrender, but the militant group dismissed the declaration as a statement made “just to please the West,” the BBC reported.
The government’s amnesty came after a spate of attacks rocked Mogadishu and the kidnapping of aid workers in the drought-hit country.
Al-Shabab, which translates to “The Youth,” aims to overthrow the Somali government and impose its own version of Islam in the country. It controlled Mogadishu and the southern portion of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when it was defeated by African Union peacekeepers.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently issued a presidential directive loosening restrictions on American military action against al-Shabab in Somalia.
In a statement following Siraji’s death, President Mohamed said he was “deeply saddened” and described the slain minister as “young, diligent and patriotic.” He also said that he will cut short his visit to Ethiopia to “mourn with my country” and attend a state funeral for Siraji.
“I’ve ordered the security heads [to] immediately get to the bottom of this unfortunate tragedy and make sure the perpetrators [are] brought to book,” he added.