Extortions and Banditry Rampant in Middle Shabelle
Mogadishu (Harar24) – The flooding in the Middle Shabelle region combined with the killings, chaos & anarchy are taking a toll on people’s lives. The troubles of the Middle Shabelle region lie not in the lack of presence of troops, rather it could be said that they are contributing to the turmoil.
In the last few days we have seen the infighting between government forces in the city of Janala which lead to death of dozens of soldiers and civilians. Now, locals are complaining that soldiers have set up illegal checkpoints “all the way from Balad to Mahaday” as one local put it, where people get extorted, goods confiscated or killed if they refuse to co-operate.
Businessmen and merchants refuse to travel now, fearing for their lives after the killing of a known businessman from the region. Mahmud Hilowle, more commonly known as Hurdaye was killed in an area known as Dhumale, an estimated 9-kilometres west from the city of Johwar, after he stopped at a checkpoint manned by government forces. Hurdaye, who was believed to be delivering khat (a mild stimulant) to Jowhar was stopped at the checkpoint where his extorters demanded he hand over all of the khat, upon refusing he was murdered.
A local who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “This is not the first such an incident occurred, Hurdaye was killed by government forces after refusing their demands.”
Locals have complained that so far no action has been taken by the administration of the Middle Shabelle to stop these extortions. It is unknown how many people have fallen victim to these “checkpoints”, but they are on the rise and continuing.
Already faced with the dilemma of the floods, locals in the Middle Shabelle now also have to deal with extortion and banditry at checkpoints, while being left at the mercy of their extorters.