MOGADISHU/NAIROBI: Nine civilians were executed by a local militia in war-torn Somalia after the killing of a policeman by the militant group Al-Shabab, police said on Saturday.
Separately, a roadside bomb hit a police vehicle patrolling near Kenya’s border with Somalia, killing several of the 11 officers inside, a police spokesman said.
Exact casualty figures from Saturday’s patrol attack were still unclear, police spokesman Charles Owino told Reuters. Both attacks were claimed by Somali insurgents who also kidnapped three Kenyan police reservists on Friday from the same area in Wajir district in northeast Kenya.
The revenge attack on Friday just outside Galkayo — one of the most developed cities in the center of the country — targeted the Rahanweyn clan, several of whose members are suspected of being Al-Shabab militants.
“This was a horrible incident, a gruesome killing against nine unarmed innocent civilians in southern Galkayo. All of the civilians belong to one clan and the gunmen shot them dead in one location a few minutes after suspected Al-Shabab gunmen killed” a policeman, Mohamed Abdirahman, a local police official said.
“This is an unacceptable act and we will bring those perpetrators to justice,” said Hussein Dini, a traditional elder.
“Their killing cannot be justified. It seems that the merciless gunmen were retaliating for the security official who they believe was killed by Al-Shabab gunmen belonging to the clan of the victims.”
Witnesses told local media that the victims were rounded up from the streets or their homes and then shot dead on the outskirts of Galkayo. Local officials have in the past fingered the Rahanweyn clan for fomenting instability in the region and supplying militants to Al-Shabab.
The local militia which staged the revenge attack are from the Saad Habargidir, a sub-clan of the Hawiye group which is dominant in the southern part of the city.
Galkayo, situated about 600 km north of the capital Mogadishu, straddles the frontier with the self-proclaimed autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug.
The city has been the scene of violent clashes between forces of the two regions in recent years and also witnessed violence between the two rival clans occupying its northern and southern districts.