Former Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Sunday that soldiers had attacked his residence and that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was responsible.
His accusation came as Somali soldiers exchanged gunfire in the streets of the capital Mogadishu, in a sign of deepening splits in the security forces between those supporting an extension of Mohamed’s presidential term and those opposed.
Analysts say the divisions could distract Somalia’s security forces from the fight against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents in the Horn of Africa nation.
The president signed a law in mid-April extending his mandate for two years, stoking opposition inside Somalia and putting him on a collision course with Western and other donors opposed to the move.
“It is very unfortunate that an army under the command of the former president attacked my residence,” Mohamud said on his Twitter account, referring to Mohamed as “the former president” because he does not recognize the extension of his term.
“I have already warned (about) and reiterated the dangers of politicizing security. Farmajo is responsible for the consequences,” he said, referring to Mohamed by his nickname.
A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the accusations from Mohamud, who was replaced as head of state by Mohamed in 2017.
Earlier, Reuters witnesses heard gunshots in the capital as residents reported clashes between opposing factions in the security forces.
“There is gunfire between pro-opposition military and government forces at Fagah Junction,” said Halima Osman, a local resident.
The gunfire later subsided and security forces opposed to Mohamed extending his term were now at Fagah, while others supporting him were at another junction, Sanaa, a kilometer away, Osman said.
A Reuters witness saw four military vehicles positioned in one place in Fagah. The forces in the vehicles came from the Abgal clans and are loyal to Saney Abdule, a military commander from the Hirshabelle area of central Somalia.
Calls and text messages to the government spokesman went unanswered.
Abdule had announced earlier on Sunday he was withdrawing his forces from some positions and coming to the capital to denounce the extension of the president’s term.
Last week, the Mogadishu police chief announced he was suspending parliament to stop the term extension but was sacked minutes later. Another Somali general has threatened to take over Mogadishu airport to protest the extension.
Somalia, which plunged into civil war in 1991, has been struggling to re-establish the authority of central government and rebuild the nation with international help. The failure to hold elections that were due in February sparked a new crisis.