Mogadishu locked down ahead of Erdogan visit

MOGADISHU – Security in Somali capital Mogadishu has been beefed up significantly ahead of the scheduled arrival on Friday of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We are ready for Erdogan's visit," Mohamed Osman, a senior official at the Interior Security Ministry, told The Anadolu Agency.

"The police, army and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have been deployed at various points in the city to improve security," he said.

For one, the main road linking Mogadishu to Aden Abdille International Airport has been closed.

"The road will remain closed until the conclusion of President Erdogan's visit," Osman said.

Erdogan arrived in Addis Ababa Wednesday on an official visit to Ethiopia.

He was welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and senior officials.

According to Somali presidential spokesman Daud Aweis, Erdogan is expected to arrive in Mogadishu on Friday.

He is scheduled to hold talks with his Somali counterpart, Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, along with other top government officials.

Erdogan is also expected to visit several Turkish projects in the capital, including the Mogadishu Port and a new, ultra-modern hospital.

The Turkish leader is also expected to inaugurate Mogadishu's newly-renovated airport.

It will be Erdogan's second visit to Somalia. He first visited the country in 2011 at the height of the Somali famine.

Turkey has since been the most visible foreign country to help war-torn Somalia rebuild its crumbling infrastructure.  

Somalia has remained in the grip of on-again, off-again violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.

Last year, the fractious country appeared to inch closer to stability after government troops and African Union forces – deployed in Somalia since 2007 – drove Al-Shabaab from most of its strongholds.

The militant group, however, has continued to carry out regular attacks on government forces and African peacekeepers.

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