Seventeen army officers were shot this day on the outskirts of Mogadishu for attempting to overthrow Somali dictator Siad Barre.
“The executions were carried out by by a firing squad formed of soldiers of the armed forces and were witnessed by thousands of people from all areas of Mogadishu,” said Mogadishu radio.
The abortive April 9 coup attempt seems to have been precipitated by Somalia’s ill-fated intervention in neighboring Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, a bloody little Cold War sideshow that saw both the U.S. (from Ethiopia, to Somalia) and Soviet Union (from Somalia, to Ethiopia) switch sides. Some of the officers concerned feared that Siad would come a-purgin’ after the last Somali forces slunk home on March 15, 1978.
The condemned (per this source) were:
Col Mohamed Sheikh Osman “Cirro”
Maj Siad Mohamed Jama
Maj Ibrahim Mohamed Hersi
Maj Siad Jama Nur
Capt Mohamed Ahmed Yusuf Aganeh
Capt Abdisalan Elmi Warsame
Capt Bashir Abshir Isa
Capt Abdillahi Hasan Nur
Lt Abdi Osman Ugas
Lt Abdirahman Maalin Bashir
Lt Adan Warsame Abdillahi
Lt Abdillahi Mahamud Guled
Lt Mohamed Abdullahi Husein (Gorod)
Lt Abdulwahab Ahmed Hashim
Lt Abdulqadir Gelle Omar
Sgt Farah Mohamed Halwo
Director Abdulqafar Warsame Abdilleh
But they’re perhaps most memorable for a coup participant not among their number, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who fled to Kenya and founded from exile the Somali Salvation Democratic Front, eventually one of the principal entities resisting the Barre regime. Ahmed served as President of Somalia from 2004 to 2008, but his government was unable to gain control of the notoriously fractious state or to end Somalia’s ongoing civil war.