Sabahi (Washington, DC)

10 December 2013

Somalia: El Bur Residents Terrified By Al-Shabaab's Brutal Murder of Traditional Elder

Mogadishu — Residents of El Bur and the surrounding areas expressed shock and fear after the body of a traditional elder kidnapped by al-Shabaab was found dumped in a clearing in Arakawada village.

The elder, Shire Diriye Osman, whose body was discovered Saturday (December 7th), was abducted from his home in El Laheley village on December 5th, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa El Bur commander Abdi Hassan Mohamed told UN-funded Radio Bar-Kulan.

Relatives of the elder said militants removed him from his residence blindfolded without providing an explanation, state-run Radio Mogadishu reported.

As of Saturday night, Arakawada residents had not yet buried his body, fearing al-Shabaab's retaliation, according to Mohamed.

Osman is one of more than 20 elders al-Shabaab has been kidnapping since October from areas around El Bur, including the villages of El Laheley and Hindhere.

Salat Warsame, a 61-year-old elder from El Bur, said he did not know Osman personally, but his murder has shaken the community.

"We have been afraid for our lives from these al-Shabaab terrorists. They consider any man who is older than 40 years as someone who opposes [their actions], even if this person has no interest in them," he told Sabahi.

"The reason al-Shabaab is killing traditional elders is because they speak out against the hardships al-Shabaab causes the public," he said. "This group does not want anyone who speaks the truth and tells them to stop causing problems."

Warsame said he was shocked to hear of the murder, while no one knows the fate or whereabouts of the other kidnapped elders.

"Since October, al-Shabaab has been kidnapping traditional elders who have refused to convince residents that al-Shabaab is correct in forcefully taking the livestock of the people as a way to support the battles the group is waging," he said. "It is very difficult to get a traditional elder who understands how al-Shabaab terrorises the public to support that move."

Treating human beings like animals:

The news of the discovery of the traditional elder's body left residents feeling terrified that al-Shabaab would target them next.

"There is a feeling of real terror in the village of El Laheley and the surrounding rural areas all the way to Arakawada village, which all come under the district of El Bur, after residents found out that al-Shabaab slaughtered a traditional elder," said 38-year-old livestock trader Mohamed Abdi who lives only five kilometres from where the body was found.

"I believe that [Osman] was killed by an unjust hand, and may God have mercy on the soul of the traditional elder," he told Sabahi. "I am saddened by the manner al-Shabaab killed him because I heard from the residents of Arakawada village that [al-Shabaab] slaughtered him like an animal."

El Bur resident Maryam Muse, a 48-year-old mother of seven children, said it was not a new phenomenon for al-Shabaab to slaughter members of the public.

"It is al-Shabaab's culture to slaughter members of the public who cannot defend themselves," she told Sabahi. "I was terrified when I heard the news. I do not know the elder personally, but I was really shocked because he is an innocent Somali who was slaughtered by al-Shabaab in an inhumane manner."

Said Muse, 49, one of the elders of El Bur, told Sabahi he was saddened by the killing of the traditional elder.

"At first we were extremely worried about the kidnapping of traditional elders by al-Shabaab, but if they have now started slaughtering them, I would say let us keep our mouths shut as [talking] will not do any good," he said, adding that al-Shabaab does not differentiate between human beings and animals and slaughters them in a similar manner.

"I am calling on the residents of El Bur district and the villages that come under it to take part in the fight against al-Shabaab," he said.

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