Somali government sacks police, army chiefs

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s police and army chiefs have been sacked after failing to crush a months-old nationwide insurgency by radical Islamist groups, a government spokesman said today.

Former warlord Colonel Abdi Hasan Qeybdid was replaced by Major General Ali Mohamed Hasan — also known as Ali Madobe — as police commissioner. Yusuf Dhumaal was replaced by Lieutenant General Mohamed Gele Kahiye at the helm of the troubled country’s armed forces.

“The prime minister announced the replacement of the police commissioner and the commander of the armed forces in front of the cabinet members in his office today,” spokesman Abdi Haji Gobdon told reporters. Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke and President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed had been discussing a reshuffle of the security apparatus for two weeks, sources close to the president told AFP.

The new appointments come three days after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a medical student graduation ceremony in a Mogadishu hotel, killing 24 people, including four ministers.

The internationally backed government blamed Islamist insurgents but both the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab and their Hezb al-Islam allies denied any involvement, instead pointing to rivalries within state security.

“The president is eager to bring new faces to the security apparatus,” Colonel Mohamed Hashi a senior security official, told AFP.