Al-Shabab Kills 19 Civilians in Central Somalia
Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamist armed group al-Shabab killed at least 19 civilians in an overnight attack between Friday and Saturday in central Somalia, clan chiefs and local officials said on Saturday. The al-Shabab terrorists intercepted at least eight vehicles traveling between the towns of Beledweyne and Maxaas, in the Hiran region, setting them afire and killing their passengers. AFP quoted clan elder Abdulahi Hared as saying, “The terrorists massacred innocent civilians who were traveling … last night. We don’t have the exact number of victims, but 19 dead bodies have been collected.” Ali Jeyte, the governor of the Hiiraan region, said, “The dead bodies are still being collected, including women and children. There could be more than 20.” Another clan leader, Mohamed Abdirahman, said, “This was a horrible attack that has never happened in our region. These were innocent civilians.” Al-Shabab claimed in a statement to have targeted fighters, calling them “militiamen and those who were transporting material for them.” Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud released a statement on Twitter saying that he “strongly condemns the despicable acts of murder against innocent civilians.”
Two weeks ago, al-Shabab set siege to the Hayat Hotel in the capital Mogadishu for 30 hours, killing 21 people and injuring 117. That attack drew international condemnation, including from the US, Britain, Turkey, and the UN.