Calgary’s Somali community seeks end to killings after new year starts with murders of two young men

Calgary’s Somali community is seeking answers to a spate of murders among its young men that spiked again in the new year.

The “senseless killings” that now include one man shot to death at a Killarney New Years party and another in a Rosedale alley a day later must bring answers, said Mohamed Jama, president of the Somali Canadian Society of Calgary.

“This killing has been going on for too long,” said Jama, who was to meet with the families of those most recently slain.

“It’s Somalis killing each other — it’s very tragic.”

He said the community is worried the two slayings could be followed by more.

“You never know — anything can happen,” he said.

In the first incident, Abdullahi Ahmed, 26, was mortally wounded in a fusillade of bullets that injured six others at a home in the 1900 block of 36 St. S.W.

The following morning, the body of 23-year-old Murad Omar was found in an alley in the 1400 block of 8 St. N.W. after residents there heard a series of gunshots.

Jama said too many young men in his community have become alienated and choose a wrong way in life.

“The young men are isolated, they drop out of school and they have taken their own path,” he said.

It’s important his community and the wider Calgary one find ways to end the string of tragedy, but Jama admits he has no easy answers.

“We are gathering information and finding the facts and hopefully something can be drawn from that,” he said.

“Right now, we’re just praying for the family to recover from this tragedy … we need the support from all the community and together we can do something.”

Community Imam Abdi Hersi said questions about the violence has bedevilled “for the past seven or eight years — it’s been a graveyard for Somali boys.”

At the same time, he said, he doesn’t like referring to the young men as Somalis “because then people don’t care about them. Many are born here.”

Both community leaders have been in contact with police since the latest killings.

An autopsy on Omar is scheduled for Monday.

Hersi said funeral services will be held for both at the Islamic Centre of Calgary, 5615 14 Ave. S.W. soon after the autopsies are complete.

The Somali community in Calgary numbers about 5,000 — many of them migrating from Ontario or Quebec since 2000, said Jama.

Caligary Sun

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