At least 21 people have been killed after their vehicles came under attack by Al-Shabaab on Friday night.
The attack occurred as 7 vehicles traveling from Beledweyne to Mahaas landed in ambush set up by Al-Shabaab which was then followed by the burning of all vehicles and confiscation of the food items. A further 2 vehicles dispatched to rescue any survivors were destroyed in IED explosion.
The Macawisley – a local clan militia who derive their name from the traditional waist cloth they wear – have been fighting Al-Shabaab around the Hiiraan region and locals say the passengers were killed in retaliation for simply being from the same clan.
Locals further added that the trucks were delivering food to people in desperate need whilst also carrying ordinary passengers, however Al-Shabaab claimed that those killed were Macawisley militias carrying supplies to them.
It is difficult to independently verify any claim at this time, however Al-Shabaab have a precedence of handing out collective punishment to “discipline” clans, such as in the cases of entire villages burnt in the Lower Shabelle and towns placed under embargo by the group in the Bay & Bakool regions.