Somalia's Minister for Public Works and Reconstruction Abbas Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji has been shot dead by bodyguards of a government official in an apparent mistaken identity in Mogadishu on Wednesday evening (3 May).
Reports suggest that the bodyguards of Auditor General Nur Farah opened fire on Siraji's car after they mistook him for an Islamist militant. The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab group often carry out attacks in Mogadishu.The incident took place near a checkpoint close to the presidential palace in the Somali capital.
A number of Siraji's bodyguards were wounded in the incident, while another minister who was accompanying the victim in the car survived, senior Somali security member Mohamed Hassan said, according to an Aljazeera report.
Siraji was killed "by mistake - they opened fire on his car accidentally. May God rest his soul", Mogadishu mayoral spokesman Abdifatah Omar Halane said.
It is unclear what led to the mistaken identity.
Police Major Nur Hussein said that security forces opened fire after they found a car blocking the street while patrolling the area and believed it was carrying militants, Reuters reported.
However, according to the Aljazeera report, Hassan said Siraji's bodyguards mistakenly identified the car in which the auditor general was travelling as a threat, resulting in an exchange of gunfire. Farah escaped without any injuries as he was in a bulletproof vehicle.
Siraji, 31, was the youngest minister to serve in Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire's new cabinet that was formed in March following elections held a month earlier.
The victim grew up at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. He was among the first few Somali refugees to have returned to the country in 2016. His family had fled Somalia following the collapse of the state in 1991.
The Office of the Somali President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, tweeted: "I am deeply saddened by the death of minister Abass. He was young, diligent and patriotic".
The president also said he has ordered an investigation into the killing.
"I've ordered the security heads to immediately get to the bottom of this unfortunate tragedy & make sure the perpetrators r brought to book", he tweeted.
Somalia's Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman also offered condolences over Siraji's death. He called him a "brilliant and rising young star who showed commitment in serving his country".