Self-organised local men in Wanla-weyn district, Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia killed four al-Shabaab militants including senior militant’s tax and operations officer on Friday, officials told Horn Globe News.
Fierce gun battle erupted between the armed local men and al-Shabaab in a village around Yaq-biriweyne, about 10km from Wanla-weyn district on Friday resulting the armed militia men to overpower the militant group.
Four militants were killed and eight others injured, according to Hassan Nur, a Wanla-weyn resident and member of the local men who battled the militants.
“The fighting took more than an hour. Al-Shabaab fighters fled the area,” Hassan Nur told local Media.
“We’ve attacked them because they were harassing us with forced taxes on our animals and businesses,” he adds “We’ve killed four of the terrorists and wounded eight others.”
Nur said one of the four militants killed is now identified as Sheikh Garguduud who was al-Shabaab’s man in charge of taxes and operations for Wanla-weyn and its 40 sub-locations.
A shop keeper in Wanla-weyn who asked for anonymity told Horn Globe News that he saw the body of the tall, thin man with henna-dyed beard displayed in the town’s market on Saturday morning.
“I saw the body of Sheikh Garguduud. He was familiar with the residents here as he was in charge of al-Shabaab operations and Zakawat in Wanla-weyn,” the resident said referring al-Shabaab’s term for taxes.
Al Shabaab militants have been extorting higher Zakawat in different parts of Somalia, a move that has been met with heavy resistance seeing villagers to denounce and take up arms against al Shabaab.
Somali lawmaker Dahir Amin Jesow who confirmed the clash between the locals and al-Shabaab has commended the ‘local movement against al-Shabaab’.
“This is commendable step done by the local people in Wanla-weyn. This is the beginning of the end of al-Shabaab’s cruel rule in southern Somalia,” Jesow said.
He said one of the four al-Shabaab militants killed in the fight had his body displayed in Wanla-weyn on Saturday. Wanla-weyn is about 90km (approximately 55 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu.
The local self-organised armed men known as ‘Macawiisley’ or those wearing sarongs have been waging war on al-Shabaab in the past one and half year.
In May last year, 30 al-Shabaab were killed following a three-day gunfight between the milutant group and the local Macawiisley militia in Bulo-burte town in Hiiraan region.
Government forces have also backed the Macawiisley militia men in other regions such as Middle Shabelle and Hiiraan in the central.
The government soldiers did not take part in the Friday fight between the local militia and the al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group, locals told the Horn Globe News.
“We would really call for the government to back the local people who are fighting against terror groups,” lawmaker Jesow emphasized.