The Youth Gangs of Mogadishu

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During the past year, criminal gangs, known as Ciyaal Weero, have been strengthening their hold over parts of Mogadishu. In some districts, people are afraid to go out at night for fear of being robbed, attacked and killed. The worst-affected areas are Karan, Dharkeenley, Wadajiir and Yaqshid.

Most gang members are armed with knives and machetes. Some use guns lent to them by members of the security forces who take a share of stolen property.

The journalist Liban Abdi Warsame was injured in a Ciyaal Weero attack. He was assaulted by four gang members as he was on his way home in Dharkeenley district.

“I couldn’t get a taxi or bajaaj to take me to the slum area,” he said. “So I had to walk.”

“I was struck on the back of the head and fell to the ground. Two members of the gang were beating me while the others stood guard.”

Mr Warsame explained that people refused to help him because they are terrified of the gangs. He said he shouted ‘thief’ but nobody came to his rescue.

Iqra Hassan Mohamud, who lives in an IDP camp in Hodan, was also attacked as she was on her way home. She narrowly escaped being raped.

Iqro Hassan: victim of gangs

“I was on my way back from school in a bajaaj,” she says. “Suddenly three people stopped the rickshaw and told the driver to go away. They ordered me to get out of the vehicle. When I refused, the gang member pulled me down. I started to fight him off.”

Ms Mohamud was shot in her right leg by an AK47 but said she stopped the man from raping her by choking him.

Her mother, Halimo Farax, spent a month in hospital with her daughter. She said this was a difficult time as she had to stop selling sweets on the streets to feed her children.

The deputy commander of Dharkeenley district police station, Captain Abdifitah Malaq, said the police were at war with the Ciyaal Weero.

“We carry out regular operations and take legal action against the gang members. We will keep going until we get rid of all of them,” he said.

Despite police action, there is no sign of any improvement in the situation.

Mohamed Adam of the Somali Public Agenda research body did a study on the gangs which recommended job creation and drugs control as possible solutions.

 

By Kiin Hasan Fakat