Uganda frees Somali defence minister

Uganda freed Somalia’s state minister for defence on Wednesday, a day after he was bundled into an unmarked car and questioned by security officials in the capital, the Horn of African nation’s envoy to Kampala said.

Sheikh Yusuf Mohammad Siad, a former warlord also known as ”Inda’ade” or ”white eyes”, was seized by Ugandan security agents on Tuesday, initially triggering fears among relatives and colleagues that he had been kidnapped.

”The state minister for defence, Inda’ade, has been released. He is in the Somali embassy with me,” Somali Ambassador Siid Ahmed Sheikh Dahir told Reuters.

Uganda has about 2 500 soldiers serving in Mogadishu as part of the African Union’s 5 000-strong peacekeeping mission, Amisom, which is guarding sites including the Somali capital’s air and sea ports and presidential palace.

Somali rebels struck Amisom’s headquarters last month with a double suicide car bombing, killing the deputy commander from Burundi and slightly wounding the Ugandan commander.

It was the latest deadly attack on the African peacekeepers. Some members of the Somali government have been accused of passing on information and weapons to the insurgents.

Inda’ade was a leading member of Somalia’s Hizbul Islam insurgents before he defected to the UN-backed government this year. Colleagues said he was visiting relatives in Kampala and they first feared he had been abducted by rebels.

”We have interrogated him and he seems not to be a threat. We will set him free today so he can go about his business in Uganda,” Ugandan military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye told Reuters.

”We just got interested in him because we didn’t understand why he had entered the country the way he did.”

Kulayigye had said late on Tuesday that the Somali minister raised suspicions by arriving unannounced on a private visit.

Human rights groups have long accused the Ugandan security forces of using heavy-handed tactics when dealing with suspects. — Reuters

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