MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia-based al-Shabaab activists continued their spate of killings in parts of the country, targeting critics and suspected opponents, using brutal execution methods, which often prompted retaliation from residents and members of the international community.
On Monday, the group executed Hassan Aden Ali, 44, a prominent alumnus from Hiran, central Somalia, using the deadly firing squad. It is not known why the activists targeted the elder and the group has yet to release a statement regarding the latest shocking execution.
But previously, Al-Shabaab often targeted people perceived to be agents of the National Intelligence Security Agency. [NISA] or government spies and the end result was brutal execution, especially in areas controlled by militants.
Community elders, who are highly regarded in Somalia, have also suffered the brunt of militant violence given their proximity to the government. A number of them have been killed in recent months by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.
To instill fear and domination, the Al-Shabaab group, which pledged allegiance to Al-Qaida in 2010, often carried out the executions in broad daylight. The group controls large swathes of rural areas in central and southern Somalia.
But in recent weeks, militants have lost their grip in a number of areas as military operations have intensified against them. Somali national army [SNA], African Union mission forces and the United States Africa Command conducted operations in the areas controlled by the group.
In return, said military chief General Yusuf Rageh, the military has regained control of many strategic towns and other key villages. The government has set up functional administrations that are supported by the SNA, he recently told reporters in Mogadishu.
Al-Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow the fragile UN-backed Somali administration for almost 14 years now. But although it may have launched sporadic attacks from small to large scale, the group has been severely degraded due to ongoing security force operations.