x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Five Pakistani men murdered in Somalia

Gunmen shoot dead five Pakistani men outside a mosque in central Somalia, local religious and police officials say.

Gunmen shot dead five Pakistani preachers today outside a mosque in central Somalia, local religious and police officials said. A police official said the preachers were dragged out of the mosque in the town of Galkayo, in the semiautonomous state of Puntland, and killed a short distance away. "The five were from Pakistan. All the roads in the area have been sealed off and we are looking for the killers," the official said.

Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Said, a spokesman of the pro-government Ahlu Sunna religious movement that controls the area, condemned the killings, saying they were "contrary to the teaching of Islam and all customary laws". It was unclear why the five were targeted. Puntland is relatively peaceful and has been spared much of the violence which has wracked the Horn of Africa state since 1991. The incident occurred in Galkayo, a town on the border between the breakaway region and Somalia proper, a region where the Ahlu Sunna group dominates.

The movement in December declared a holy war against the radical Shebab militia that controls much of southern and central Somalia, accusing them of fostering violence in the war-wracked country. The al Qa'eda-inspired Shebab is currently engaged in a deadly military offensive against the internationally-backed government of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. * AFP