Shabab Attack Trucks Carrying Food Relief in Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya – The militant group Al Shabab has killed 20 people and set fire to seven food trucks in central Somalia, authorities and state media said on Saturday, in a new deadly attack. most shaken the Horn of Africa nation suffering catastrophic famine and worsening drought.

Despite repeated US drone strikes and a protracted African Union assault against the group, Al Shabab has stepped up attacks into eastern Africa, increasingly expanded its financial tentacles and continued to control large swaths of Somalia, which was on the brink of starvation amid the worst drought in four decades.

The attack took place on Friday night when the vehicles a little yeasty passengers, food aid and trade goods between the towns of Beledweyne and Mahas in the central Hiran region. Some of the dead included women and children, Somali National News Agency report. Two vehicles carrying people who had come to the rescue of the victims were also targeted with improvised explosive devices, Somali National Television speak.

Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attackbut said it had targeted supplies transporting members of the Somali government-backed local security forces, according to Somali Memo, a news website affiliated with the group.

Somali government condemn the attack on Saturday and promised a “strong response” to the group. Abdirahman Abdishakur, Somali President’s special envoy for drought response, called attack “Devastating”, adding that it comes in the footsteps of Shabab destroy the wellelectricity and telecommunications poles in the area in recent days.

“I call for immediate support for these communities facing this severe drought,” he said in a Twitter post.

The US Embassy in Somalia said it was also deeply concerned by the attacks. “By denying food to the hungry and destroying the wells of the thirsty al-Shabaab has once again shown the disregard for human life,” the embassy said. said in a tweet.

The attack occurred just two weeks after Al Shabab make a siege lasting 30 hours in a hotel in the Somali capital, killing 21 people and injuring 117 others. The Qaeda-linked group has ramped up its activities in recent months, targeting both civilian and military clothing and making a daring incursion into neighboring Ethiopia in late July. .

Following elections in May, Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, promised to fight and defeat the group militarily, ideologically and financially. In recent weeks, Somali security forces have begun a special operation Purge Al Shabab from the Hiran region.

Ali Abdullahi Hussein, president of the semi-autonomous Hirshabelle State where Hiran fell, said Shabab had suffered setbacks in recent military exercises, and promised after Saturday’s attack to “intensify the extended operation to eliminate the ruthless Al Shabab.”

Even if the government is against this group, it still faces the effects of drought. According to the World Food Program, about 7.1 million Somalis, or nearly half of the country’s population, are currently hungry from the war in Ukraine.

The United Nations says one million Somalis have been displaced by the drought and some 213,000 are facing life-threatening levels of hunger. The country is currently grappling with its fifth failed rainy season in a row, and the United Nations says famine could be imminent if livestock and crops continue to fail and emergency help is not given to those who need help. affected person.

Al Shabab’s attacks deepen this miserable situation. Alinor Abdi, a resident of the capital Mogadishu, said that his teacher and former mentor were among those killed Saturday in Hiran.

It is “proof that Al Shabab does not distinguish between civilians and fighters,” Abdi said. “It was a sad day.”

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