At least 17 people were killed after al-Shabab militants attacked a convoy of vehicles in the Hiran region of central Somalia on Friday night, local sources said on Saturday.
Mohamed Hussein Ali, a local resident, told Xinhua on the phone that the raid occurred on the outskirts of Beledweyne, the administrative town of Somalia’s Hirshabele state when the vehicles were ferrying local civilians and food supplies to their respective towns.
“The total death toll rose to 17 and included men, women and children. Seven vehicles were burnt to ashes on the spot,” Hussein said.
A local militia, dubbed Ma’awisley in cooperation with Somalia National Army (SNA), has been fighting al-Shabab militants recently in a bid to push them out of the Hiran region.
The terror group, which has been carrying out several attacks to topple the government, claimed that they had killed 20 locally-mobilized Ma’awisley militia and destroyed eight trucks.
State-owned Somali national television reported that the attack targeted a convoy carrying food aid for the restive town which has recently witnessed clashes between Ma’awisley and al-Shabab militants.
Residents said al-Shabab fighters targeted mainly civilians a day after the terror group recaptured a town in the region that had been taken by the Ma’awisley militia backed by the government.
The Somali government has condemned the attack by the al-Shabab terror group, saying it stands with the local community and promises to respond strongly to the brutal attack and the terrorists will see the consequences of their crime, according to the broadcaster.
The attacks continue across Somalia despite the security forces backed by allied forces having stepped up operations against the militants in the country.