To call it a tough first day on the job would be an understatement.
After being appointed the first minister of women’s development, Asha Osman Aqil was kidnapped by al-Shabab militants. According to Work, Youth and Sports Minister Mohamed Muhidin Mursal, Aqil was seized while “assisting drought-affected people in Jowhar on behalf of non-governmental organizations.”
Jowhar is approximately 50 miles from Somalia’s capitol city, Mogadishu.
While al-Shabab has made no comment on the kidnapping, Voice of America reported:
Reports citing a relative and various Somali officials say Asha Osman Aqil was seized by al-Shabab fighters in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region.
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali had named her to his cabinet on Wednesday.
Her relatives, speaking to the press said they knew the rebels had seized her because of her nomination. Reuters reported:
“Asha is now being interrogated in Balad by al Shabaab,” a relative who did not want to be identified for fear he would be attacked by the rebels, told Reuters.
“She told them she is aware of her nomination and had not contacted the government at all and had not accepted the vacancy.”
Yesterday night after spending hours in captivity Aqil was returned safely to her home in Bal’ad. On a radio interview in Mogodishu, Aqil said:
“I was treated well when I was in the jail…I was appointed the minister of women and family affairs without any discussions or asking me if I was ready to hold or accept the post.”
Aqil has not indicated she will be resigning the post. She was brought in on a wave of appointments, joining 17 other officials appointed by the Somali government on Wednesday.
The Somali government has not commented on the incident.