By Abdi Sheikh
Sunday September 18, 2022
A government-allied Somali militia killed at least 45 al
Shabaab fighters and beheaded some of them, three witnesses said on Sunday, as
citizens in central regions of the country increasingly take up arms against
The beheadings on Saturday followed a battle in the Hiran
region of Hirshabelle State, where there has been significant fighting this
month between al Shabaab and newly expanded militias allied with the federal
Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked Islamist group, has been
fighting Somalia's weak central government since 2006. It wants to implement a
strict interpretation of sharia law.
Al Shabaab has increasingly burned houses, destroyed wells,
and beheaded civilians in the Hiran region, residents say; that, combined with
its demands for taxes amidst the worst drought in 40 years, has pushed more
residents to take up arms.
"Al Shabaab is not strong, it just burns people,
beheads people and put their heads in the streets just to terrorize," said
Ahmed Abdulle, a Hiran elder.
"Now, we are doing the same: we have ordered the
beheading of al Shabaab fighters," he told Reuters.
Videos widely shared on Telegram showed at least two
beheaded alleged al Shabaab fighters and dozens more dead bodies in fatigues
and red-and-white checked scarves. Some of the dead appeared to have died in
Reuters was not independently able to verify the
authenticity of the videos, but three witnesses to the beheadings said they
were real. Seven other residents, including Abdulle, said family members had
been present and confirmed the deaths to them.
The three witnesses asked not to be named for security
"Al Shabaab put us in hell...So our people decided to
liberate themselves... My daughter is also fighting in the frontline, she has
an AK-47 on her shoulder," resident Halima Ismail said.
Somali Interior Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
An al Shabaab spokesman was not immediately available for
Fighters have retaken 10 villages from al Shabaab in recent
weeks, elder Hassaan Farah told Reuters.
Residents in nearby Galmudug state are also taking up arms.
"This week, we have recaptured nine villages,"
said Ahmed Shire, the Galmudug information minister.
"It is a big revolution by Galmudug state."
On Saturday, the federal government sent troops to reinforce
Galmudug fighters, the Somali National News Agency said.
Earlier this month, al Shabaab militants killed at least 18
civilians and destroyed food aid trucks. In August, they killed more than 20
people in a hotel siege.
Somalia has been in civil war since 1991, when clan-based
warlords overthrew a dictator then turned on each other.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Ayenat Mersie; Editing
by Frank Jack Daniel