MOGADISHU, Somalia — The Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic militants of Al Shabaab executed four elders on Saturday on the charges of spying for the Somali government military and African Union peacekeepers in middle Shabelle region.The executions took place in a square at a militants’ stronghold near the town of Aadan Yabal , some 225 km northwest of Mogadishu, Somalia’s war-torn Capital city.
“The four elders were shot dead by Al Shabaab firing squad near Aadan Yabaal for allegedly “collaborating” with Somali and Ethiopian troops in the region,” said a resident who asked to remain anonymous, fearing his safety.
Al Shabaab militants took the elders, all from Aadan Yabaal, before pulling out of the town upon the arrival of coalition forces, Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union (known as AMISOM), according to the local resident.
During the execution event, Abu Yahya, an Al Shabaab commander and a court judge threatened local residents with death if they cooperate for the SNA and AMISOM as spy agents.
On 9th April 2016, coalition forces re-captured Aadan Yabaal from Al Shabaab following days of heavy fighting. The town was the last major town in Middle Shabelle region of southern Somalia and had, until then, been under militant rule for seven years.
Backed by the United Nations, the Mogadishu-based Somalian federal government, with support from African peacekeepers and Western intelligence, have battled to curb Al Shabaab’s influence and drove the group from Mogadishu in 2011.
Since 2011, Al Shabaab have lost swathes of territories in southern and central regions, including Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa, Barawe and Marko to Somalian troops and African Union peacekeepers.
by Omar Nor
Freelance journalist based in Mogadishu, Somalia @Omaar_nor