A Somali government minister was shot dead Wednesday near the country’s presidential palace in Mogadishu.

The minister of public works and reconstruction, Abbas Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji, was declared dead after an exchange of gunfire Wednesday.

Witnesses told VOA’s Somali Service that the minister was shot after bodyguards of Somalia’s auditor general opened fire.

The auditor general, Nur Jimale Farah, said bodyguards in his vehicle suspected the car behind them carried a suicide bomber.

Farah says the shooting occurred Wednesday evening about 500 meters from the presidential palace, Villa Somalia.

Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman confirmed the death of Siraji on Twitter and said an investigation is under way.

Siraji was the youngest minister in the government and was among the first Somali refugees to return to the country from Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp last year.


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