Militant Attacks Kills 22 in Somalia

5 years ago

Al Shabaab gunmen and a suicide car bomber struck a religious centre in central Somalia on Monday, killing a cleric and at least 14 of his followers, a police officer said.

The hardliner militant group had accused the cleric of blasphemy, which he denied.

“The (security) operation is now over. Shabaab killed 15 people including the cleric, his wife, his followers and his guards,” Captain Nur Mohamed, a police officer, told Reuters from Galkayo by phone.

“Three militants who stormed the centre were also shot dead.” 

The group took responsibility for the attack and put the number of dead at 26. It said some soldiers who responded to the first attack also died as they tried to remove a second car bomb.

“We killed 26 people including the owner of the centre, his followers, his bodyguards and soldiers,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, said.

Residents of Galkayo and a regional official said Abdiweli may have also been targeted because his centre hosts mostly youths who play music and dance.

Shabaab said last year the cleric had insulted the Prophet (PBUH), an accusation denied at the time by Abdiweli.

Abdirashid Hashi, the governor of Mudug region, told reporters that Shabaab had threatened Abdiweli on numerous occasions.

An elder in Galkayo said Abdiweli had provided free boarding to former pirates, street boys and jobless men and they became his followers.

“He used to tell teenagers: “If you were a pirate, or a bandit, stop it and come and dance, eat food and sleep here. God will forgive your sins. Some other ignorant teenagers thought he was as saint... and so joined him,” local elder Ismail Abdirahman told reporters.

“We understood there was something wrong with him but we could not take him to court because the man was well armed.” 

Shabaab controls small sections on Mudug region, but it does not include Galkayo.

In a separate attack in Mogadishu on Monday, at least seven people died when a car bomb exploded in front of shops in the Wadajir district of the capital, police and witnesses said.

The explosion occurred after security forces stopped a suspicious vehicle at the market in the south of the city.

“The suspected driver was stopped by the security forces and was being questioned when the vehicle went off,” said police officer Mohamed Hassan.


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