MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somali Islamist rebels have beheaded at least 11 civilians in the capital in the past two weeks, a campaign of terror that residents said Friday is designed to show the insurgency can still act in Mogadishu after withdrawing from their bases there earlier this month.
"We wake up with beheaded bodies on the streets every day," said Abdinur Marwan, who lives in a district of Mogadishu called Hewila. "They call themselves Muslims while doing what Allah banned! Everyone is trying to leave here because people are being killed like goats."
The Islamist al-Shabab militia withdrew from their bases in the Somali capital after being steadily pushed back by more heavily armed African Union forces supporting the U.N.-backed Somali government. The Islamists described the withdrawal as a "tactical retreat" and said they would still carry out operations in the capital.
Resident Afrah Abdikhayre said five decapitated bodies were found in his Suqa Holaha area last week. He says two beheaded men in Somali government uniforms and another three headless bodies were found this week.
Resident Nur Sugow said al-Shabab beheaded a donkey cart driver in the Yaqshid district. Al-Shabab frequently carries out beheadings and amputations.
The militia also executed two men and a 16-year-old boy by firing squad on Tuesday after accusing them of spying.
Residents — some to terrified to give their names — appealed to the Somali government and AU troops to secure their neighborhood. Although al-Shabab has pulled back, individual fighters are still active in the city and gunfire is still common.
Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991 and at least five of its districts are suffering from famine.