Senior police officer shot dead in Somaliland

A senior police officer was shot dead in Hargeysa, the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, on Tuesday, according to a local journalist.

He said the Hargeysa regional traffic police chief, Col Mahmud Abdi Jama, was shot twice in front of his house by unknown gunmen who followed him home. "He was rushed to a nearby hospital but died shortly afterwards," the source added.

An investigation into the killing is underway, with many policemen visible on the streets of the city.

The police officer's killing follows the murder in October of two British teachers Richard and Enid Eyeington, and Italian veteran aid worker, Dr Annalena Tonelli.

An official with Somaliland's information ministry said the motive for the latest murder was not yet clear, neither who was behind it nor whether it was linked to the previous murders.

"It is unlikely that this and the earlier incidents are connected," the official told IRIN. "It is too early to speculate on who might have killed the officer and why. We have to wait for the police to arrest suspects before we can comment."

Some 20 people are in police custody for the earlier killings, which were blamed on "elements working to destabilise the region". All those arrested will be brought to court "as soon as ongoing police investigations are completed", the official added.