MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants have continued with their killing spree in sections of the country, targeting perceived critics and opponents, using the brutal execution methodologies, which have often attracted retribution from locals and members of the international community.
On Monday, the group executed Hassan Aden Ali, 44, a renowned elder in Hiran, Central Somalia, using the deadly firing squad. It’s not clear why the militants targeted the elder and the group has not yet issued a statement with regard to the latest shocking execution.
But previously, Al-Shabaab has often targeted people perceived to be agents of the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] or spies of the government and the end result has been brutal execution especially in regions that are controlled by the militants.
Community elders, who are highly regarded in Somalia have also borne the brunt of the violence by the militants given their closeness with the government. A number of them have been killed in recent months by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.
To instill fear and dominance, the Al-Shabaab group, which pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaida in 2010, has often carried the executions in broad daylight. The group controls large swathes of rural Central and Southern Somalia.
But in recent weeks, the militants have lost grip in a number of regions due to intensified military operations targeting them. The Somali National Army [SNA], African Union Mission Forces, and the US Africa Command have been leading the operations in regions controlled by the group.
In return, military Chief Gen. Yusuf Rageh said, the army has regained control of many strategic towns and other key villages. The government has installed functional administrations which are backed by the SNA, he told reporters in Mogadishu recently.
Al-Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow the fragile UN-backed Somalia administration for almost 14 years now. But despite being able to launch small to large scale sporadic attacks, the group has been degraded substantially due to the ongoing operations by the security forces.
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