Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced Friday that his government has banned people from carrying weapons on the streets of Mogadishu, the country’s capital.
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“We impose a strict ban on carrying guns in the streets of Mogadishu. One cannot justify having machine guns mounted on vehicles and rocket propelled grenades in the streets, for protection from a hiding al-Shabab militant armed with a pistol,” the president said.
The president announced the ban during a Friday prayers sermon held inside his presidential compound in Mogadishu.
Some security experts see the move as a big step in the process of restoring stability in Mogadishu, which has not had reliable security plans since the collapse of the Siad Barre military regime in 1991. Mogadishu, a densely populated seaside capital, was known as the White Pearl of the Indian Ocean before the civil war.
Over the years, the business community has set up its own security teams to protect their lives and properties. Government officials and lawmakers also have their own heavily armed guards, and armed private security guards operate in the city, making the city awash with guns.
Guns and other small arms are still available for sale in some areas of the city, though not as openly as they were in the past.
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Hours before the announcement of the weapons ban, government media declared that the second phase of the government’s war with al-Shabab militants has begun in the Central Somalia region of Hiran.
Last week, government officials said they ended an eight-month-long military operation against al-Shabab militants. During military operations early Friday, the Somali National Army, backed by local clan militias, took control of several villages in the Hiran region from the militants.