Somalilandsun — In the end, it wasn’t clan militias or Islamic militants but a government soldier who killed Dr. Osman.
Over his 54 years, the pharmacist had earned a reputation for fair dealing in business, kindness among friends, and piety in the mosque. A family man, he had survived Somalia’s clan wars and then kept his head down when the Islamic militants known as Al Shabaab overran his hometown in southern Somalia five years ago. A follower of a softer, mystical branch of Islam, he obeyed the ultraconservative occupiers’ harsh new rules — don’t smoke, don’t chew khat, pay the Islamic tax, go to the mosque five times a day without fail — and carried on.
In February of this year, the military offensive to retake towns like Osman’s, “liberating” them from extremist rule, began. As the fighting drew near Qoryooley [pronounced “kor-ree-oh-lay”], Osman sent his wife and seven children to the capital Mogadishu, telling them they would be safer there. He stayed behind to look after the pharmacy he had built from scratch. He told his family not to worry.
On March 23, after a fierce multi-hour firefight, Somalia’s flag was hoisted in Qoryooley for the first time in half a decade.
And on a Tuesday afternoon five weeks later, a soldier in Somali uniform shot Osman in the back of the head.
The bullet entered below the pharmacist’s right ear. It exited through his left cheek, taking with it teeth and bone, then sliced across his left hand, leaving two fingers dangling by bloody tendrils.
“Even Al Shabaab,” Osman’s cousin said, “didn’t kill us in cold blood.”
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