The toll could rise further: at least 19 civilians were killed overnight from Friday to Saturday, in a attack by radical Shebab Islamists on a road in central Somalia.
According to clan chiefs and local officials, at least eight vehicles (passenger minibuses and trucks) traveling on a road between the towns of Beledweyne and Maxaas were intercepted, grouped together and then burned, and their passengers killed, at the village level. ‘Afar-Irdood.
Shebab deny attacking civilians
“We don’t have the exact number of victims, but 19 bodies were collected. The attackers abducted several other people whose fate remains unknown,” said Abdulahi Hared, a chieftain from Beledweyne. Women and children were among the victims.
Al-Shabaab announced in a statement that it had targeted fighters from a local sub-clan who had recently helped government forces fight them. They claim to have “killed 20 militiamen and those who transported equipment for them” and destroyed “eight of their vehicles”.
This attack comes two weeks after a spectacular assault led by Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab on a hotel in the capital Mogadishu, which left at least 21 dead and 117 injured.