Local News

Al Shabaab 'fires two members of executive council' after they pushed to stop attacks on civilians

The terror group issued a rare apology after a blast killed 90 in Mogadishu

Feb 5th · 1 min read

Somali jihadist group Al-Shabaab has expelled top members of its executive council after they expressed concern over attacks against civilians, according to Somalia’s intelligence agency.

Attacks on civilians have intensified in the past year in the East African country, and the group are thought to have struck nearly 800 times in 2019. 

Al-Shabaab’s leader Ahmed Diriye fired senior members Mahad Karate and Bashir Qorgab after the two asked him to stop targeting civilians in the capital Mogadishu, the National Intelligence and Security Agency, said on Twitter.

Last month, the terror group killed at least 90 people in Mogadishu in its deadliest strike in years, prompting an unprecedented show of anger from residents. It later issued a rare apology after hundreds of people took to the streets in protest over the car blast.

While internal rifts within the organisation over its brutal tactics are likely and have been underscored by defections in recent years, some government reports of infighting have been questioned in the past, analysts told the Telegraph.

Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabaab fighters perform military exercises (file photo)

“[Al-Shabaab] has a track record of suppressing dissent internally through violent means, and the issue of civilian killings has come up time and again, especially in reference to the large attack in late December 2019,” said Omar Mahmood, a senior analyst on Somalia for the think-tank International Crisis Group.

The December attack was the deadliest to hit the country since a truck exploded in 2017 near a fuel tanker in Mogadishu, killing nearly 600 people. Since then, hundreds of civilians have been killed, including the capital’s mayor, journalists, lawmakers and university students.

The attacks have prompted fears that the al-Qaeda-linked group is going through a resurgence.

Al-Shabaab militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011. But despite the presence of Amisom, a 20,000-strong African Union army, local security forces and increased airstrikes by the US, the jihadists have proven themselves to be incredibly resilient.  

The militants have infiltrated parts of the government and security services, allowing it to continue launching high-level attacks.

Over the last few years, it has overrun a peacekeeping base, attacked a US military base outside Mogadishu and launched attacks in neighbouring Kenya.

last updated: 2020-02-05@07:02