Saturday September 3, 2022
The reports added that vehicles racing to the scene to transport victims were also hit with roadside IEDs, although no casualties were reported.
Mogadishu (HOL) -Al Shabaab militants reportedly killed at least 20 civilians on Saturday in an ambush attack on an aid convoy in central Somalia.
The convoy was carrying food and other supplies near Afar-irdod village, located between Beledweyne and Mahas district in the Hiiraan region.
The militants also set fire to the trucks and food supplies en route to Mahas, which had been the scene of fighting between government security forces and Al Shabaab.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated militant insurgency group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a statement to their media affiliates, Al Shabaab said they targeted fighters from a local militia known as 'Macaawisley.'
Al Shabaab claimed that the convoy carried food supplies and reinforcements to Macaawisley fighters and that twenty people were killed in the attack.
The Macaawisley militia is fighting alongside Somali soldiers to liberate rural villages in Hiiraan.
Multiple reports from witnesses and government officials assert that the convoy was not armed and that the victims were civilians carrying food to Maas district in Hiran province.
Recently, Al-Shabaab fighters destroyed water wells in at least ten areas in Hiiraan's Matabaan and Mahaas districts and burned down houses in seven locations in the Mahas district.
The federal government recently spent about $150,000 to repair wells destroyed by Al-Shabaab in small villages and towns throughout the Hiiraan region.
Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, who visited Beledweyne last week, encouraged the residents to organize themselves and assist the government troops in their offensive against Al-Shabaab.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack, calling it a "despicable act of murder against innocent civilians."
The US Embassy in Mogadishu said the attack exemplifies Al Shabaab's callous disregard for civilians, even amid a severe drought.
"We are deeply concerned by reports of attacks by al-Shabaab on vehicles carrying food in #Hiraan. By denying food to the hungry and destroying wells of the thirsty al-Shabaab has once again shown its disregard for human life."