Somali defense minister seized in Uganda

MOGADISHU – Somalia’s defense minister was seized Tuesday during a trip to the Ugandan capital in what the Somali president said was likely a “mistake” by Ugandan security forces.

Yusuf Mohamed Siad was picked up as he walked out of a mosque in Kampala, Somali government spokesman Sheik Abdirisaq Qeylow said.

Qeylow initially said Siad was kidnapped, but the circumstances were not immediately clear and the claim could not be independently confirmed. Calls to authorities in Uganda were not immediately returned.

Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, during a trip to Columbus, Ohio, told The Associated Press that he was aware of the incident and said, “we understand he’s in the custody of the Ugandan government.”

Somali officials were working to free him, Ahmed added.

Somalia has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, then turned on each other.

The al-Shabab insurgent group, which has foreign fighters in its ranks, operates openly in the capital and seeks to overthrow the government and impose a strict form of Islam in Somalia.