AT LEAST 25 people were killed Saturday in central Somalia in an attack by Islamic fundamentalists Al Shabab on a convoy of vehicles carrying emergency food and other humanitarian supplies, local authorities told EFE.
“We have witnessed how the bodies of 25 civilians and their property have been burned. It is a tragedy,” the governor of Hiiraan region (where the incident took place), Ali Jayte, said.
“This morning’s attack shows that the men of Al Shabab are not good Muslims, but savages that we must collectively fight,” the governor added.
The Al Shabab terror group, which controls some rural areas of Somalia and has carried out numerous attacks in the country, claimed responsibility for the assault on the humanitarian convoy on its radio frequency channel.
According to the militants, the attack was carried out to punish members of a local militia called Macawiisley, which since its birth in 2014 has been engaged in intense battles against Al Shabab to drive them out of the Hiiraan region.
But Jayte told EFE that the Somali Army and its allied groups would continue to carry out military operations against the terror groups operating in the region.
Al Shabab, a group affiliated to the Al Qaeda network, wants to overthrow the central government of Somalia and establish by force a Wahhabi-style (ultra-conservative) Islamic state.
On August 23, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced a “total war” against Al Shabab to “eliminate” the group, although he did not specify when those military operations would begin.
The president’s announcement came shortly after Al Shabab seized a popular hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, for 30 hours, killing 21 people and injuring more than 100 others.
In May, US President Joe Biden ordered the deployment of hundreds of troops on Somali soil to fight more effectively against Al Shabab. The US Africa Military Command (Africom) has since conducted several airstrikes against the Islamist fighters.
Somalia has been embroiled in armed conflict since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, which left the country without an effective government and at the mercy of warlords and Islamist militias.