Gunmen kill nine street cleaners outside Mogadishu -police, official

by Reuters
Tuesday, 26 February 2019 10:28 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A member of Somali security forces stands on top of a truck mounted with a weapon as he patrols the streets during an operation against suspected militant Islamist group al Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu, February 18, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

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Gunmen opened fire on four women and five men from refugee camps in Hawabdi, 19 km north west of Mogadishu in the state of Lower Shabelle

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Suspected al Shabaab militants shot and killed nine street cleaners in a village near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, police and a local governor said on Tuesday.

Gunmen opened fire on four women and five men from refugee camps in Hawabdi, 19 km north west of Mogadishu in the state of Lower Shabelle. All were killed at the scene, authorities said.

"They were clearing the shrubs to get cash. Militants opened fire on them," Ali Nur, deputy governor of Lower Shabelle, told Reuters on Tuesday. "Security forces heard the gunfire and rushed to the scene. The militants ran away otherwise they could've killed dozens of cleaners there."

Al Shabaab frequently carries out attacks in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia against the government and other targets.

The group is trying to oust the Western-backed central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of sharia law.

The workers killed on Monday were on a break when the militants attacked, governor Ali said.

A local police officer confirmed the incident. "Al Shabaab killed nine poor civilians who were cleaners. We searched the area for the militants but they all escaped," Captain Nur Ali said.

Mohamed Hussein, a local elder who lost a relative, told Reuters: "Yesterday was a black day. The families of the cleaners were expecting cash but unfortunately we received nine dead bodies."

Al Shabaab could not be reached for comment. (Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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