Hostility rises in Hargeisa after suicide bombings

Somalis displaced to the self-styled independent republic of Somaliland from other parts of the Horn of Africa country have faced increasing hostility after three suicide bombing incidents in late October.

Reports of criminal incidents targeting non-Somaliland Somalis in Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital, have prompted Interior Minister Abdillahi Ismail Irro to call for restraint.

"I am calling on Somaliland citizens not to harm or take aggressive actions against the refugees from Somalia [by] linking them to the criminals, because these people were not part of the attacks; on the contrary, only a small number of people were involved in the crimes which we are now investigating. I urge you to report any suspects to the nearest police station instead of taking the law into your own hands," Irro said.

Somaliland considers Somalis displaced from outside Somaliland as refugees and only recognises those displaced within Somaliland as internally displaced.

Several people from southern Somalia in Hargeisa said they were now living in fear while others had been thrown out of their residences since the bombings, which targeted the presidential palace, a UN compound and the Ethiopian embassy.

The bombers have been linked to the Al-Shabab militia group based in Mogadishu.

Mohamed Abdirahman 19, who has been in Hargeisa for about a month, said: "The people of Hargeisa welcomed me when I first came to Somaliland after leaving Mogadishu; everybody was so nice to me and used to give me meals but this changed within 24 hours of the bombings.

"I was quickly thrown out by my hosts. Whenever I walk along the street, I try not to talk to anyone because I fear that if I am identified as a Somali citizen, I will face difficulties because the suspects were believed to have come from Mogadishu," Abdirahman told IRIN.

However, Abdirahman was taken in by another family on 3 November.

"I am now living with another family neighbouring my former hosts; I hope the situation will improve soon," he said.

Fadumo Hassan, another Somali resident, was robbed by people who posed as policemen investigating the bombings.

She said: "A day after the bombings, four men came to my home in Kodbur district here in Hargeisa; they claimed they were police officers and wanted to inspect my house in relation to the attacks; I allowed them into the house where they conducted a search. After they left, it was established that they were thieves and had stolen money and jewellery from me. I don't know how I will recover my property."

Meanwhile, Somaliland police have arrested freelance journalist Hadis Mohamed Hadis, another Somali citizen, who has been in Somaliland for the past six years.

The police declined to give a reason for his arrest.

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