GALKAYO, Somalia May 4 (Garowe Online) – A traditional elder in northern Somalia’s Puntland region was arrested by local police Sunday morning after giving an interview to the BBC yesterday, relatives said.
Abdalla Jama Jibril, an elder based in the Puntland town of Galkayo, was taken from his home by Puntland police and transported to an unknown location, his son told Garowe Online.
During his interview with the BBC Somali Service, Mr. Jibril condemned the arbitrary arrests of several Somali civilians by Puntland authorities, some of whom were later extradited to Ethiopia. [ READ: Puntland extradites more Somali civilians to Ethiopian govt: Report]
Mohamed Adan Muse, chairman of the Galkayo-based Abdullahi Isse Human Rights group, has condemned Mr. Jibril’s arrest as a violation upon the right to speak freely.
The human rights group was also very critical of several civilians arrested by Puntland police for yet-unspecified reasons.
All the detained persons were unarmed civilians with clan ties to Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, which has an ethnically Somali population and has been wracked by armed conflict led by Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels since the 1990s.
Last month, two ONLF political officers were the first to be arrested in Puntland and later extradited to Ethiopia.
The government of Puntland denies the allegations, but a senior Puntland army commander reportedly told Puntland-based news agency Horseed Media that the regional government has nothing to do with the arrests.
Col. Abdishakur Abdullahi, the acting military commander in Mudug region where Galkayo is based, said Ethiopian security forces have the « permission » to conduct operations in « any part of Somalia, » according to a Horseed Media report.
The Ethiopian army invaded central and southern Somalia in December 2006 to oust Islamic Courts rulers from Mogadishu and install the weak interim government.
Ethiopia’s repressive government has been widely condemned for gross human rights violations and war crimes, including mass killings in Somalia perpetrated by the Ethiopian army.