Somali militant group al-Shabab on Wednesday released two Kenyans whom they had kidnapped on Nov. 22 from a village in Wajir county in the northeast region.
Mohamed Birik, North-Eastern Regional Commissioner, confirmed the release of the two camel herders following successful negotiations between two clans in Somalia. The two were abducted on Nov. 22.
Birik said the herders arrived safely in Khorof Kharar, noting that the government has stepped up security in border towns to avert cross-border incursions by al-Shabab militants.
“We have deployed more security personnel on the border areas to prevent a similar incident. Patrols have been enhanced at large,’’ said the government administrator.
Residents said the herders were abducted after they resisted paying zakat (Islamic tax or offering) to the militant group that had come to Konton town in the area.
According to the residents, the militants had been roaming in the area for at least two days before kidnapping the herders and crossing with them into Somalia.
The unknown number of militants, who accused the herders of grazing animals at the Somali border, also took away six camels belonging to the herders.
According to local officials, the incident prompted elders from Degodia-Fai that reside in Wajir to visit the Marehan elders in Somalia to negotiate for the release of the two, who were abducted along the Kenyan border while grazing their animals.
The elders managed to secure the release of the victims after five days of negotiations but did no secure the release of their camels.
Birik called on the residents to be vigilant and always share information with security agencies to help flush out the al-Qaeda allied terrorist group.
Similarly, Six al-Shabab militants were killed and several others injured in separate incidents in Hiraan region of central Somalia during a fighting between Somali National Army (SNA) and the militants, officials said Wednesday.
Abdirahim Takow, Deputy Governor of Hiraan Region for Security Affairs said that four of the militants were killed early Wednesday while two others died in a blast of landmine which they were planting at the airport in Bula-burte town in the region.
“Six al-Shabab militants were killed in two separate incidents in Hiraan region.
SNA soldiers killed four al-Shabab militants at an area about 80km to Beletweyne town and the two others died in a landmine blast overnight at the airport of Bula-burte town in the same region,” said Takow.
He added that an AU soldier from Djiboutian contingent was killed in the bomb blast inside the airport on Tuesday.
The militants claimed responsibility of the killing of the AU soldier and wounding another one from the Djiboutian contingent on Tuesday, but it did not comment on Wednesday’s clashes with SNA forces.
The terrorist group has stepped up its attacks in the central region of Somalia after being flushed out from the capital Mogadishu.