Somali group kills 20, burns food trucks

Somali group kills 20, burns food trucks

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali state media and residents say the extremist group al-Shabab killed at least 20 people and burned seven vehicles transporting food in the Hiran region Saturday morning, and the government’s drought envoy called it “devastating” for communities in the grip of a severe drought.

Residents said the attack was in retaliation for a local mobilization against the al-Qaida-affiliated group that holds significant parts of central and southern Somalia. The group’s presence complicates response to the drought that has killed thousands.

Envoy Abdirahman Abdishakur noted that al-Shabab also blew up water wells in Hiran in recent days.

“The victims were drivers and passengers transporting food supplies from Beletweyne to Mahas and a total of seven trucks carrying food and vehicles used by the passengers were set ablaze,” resident Hassan Abdulle told The Associated Press by phone.

The attack came a day after government forces destroyed land mines that al-Shabab had planted on the busy road connecting Beletweyne and Mataban with the intent to target travelers.

Al-Shabab confirmed the attack and claimed to have killed 20 locally mobilized militia members.

The Somali government has condemned the “barbaric” attack and reiterated its support for local mobilization against the extremist group.

7 Colombian officers die in explosion

BOGOTA, Colombia — An explosion Friday afternoon killed seven police officers who were heading to a social welfare event in Colombia’s southern department of Huila, according to the authorities. An eighth officer was hospitalized with injuries.

The national police said the officers killed Friday had been on the way to San Luis, a small town in Neiva, when an explosive went off in the town of Corozal. The youngest of the officers was 18, the police said.

Huila’s police department confirmed Saturday that seven officers were killed and the injured officer had hidden in the forest until police found him.

President Gustavo Petro condemned the attack Friday on Twitter.

“Solidarity with their families,” he wrote of the officers killed. “These facts express a clear sabotage of total peace.”

Petro and the commander of the military forces, Gen. Helder Giraldo, arrived Friday in Neiva for a meeting of security forces, the Defense Ministry said.

In a joint news release, the Defense Ministry and the office of the high commissioner for peace said “total peace” meant not remaining silent in the face of crimes.

“This act of terror is a sabotage to the purposes of overcoming this violence that serves the interests of a few, who live and have lived off of the war,” the statement said.

Dissident groups of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are known to have a presence in Huila.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed a peace accord in 2016 with Colombian authorities and agreed to disband and hand over its weapons. But the agreement did not represent an end to the country’s decades-long armed conflict, which has killed 450,000.

When the authorities failed to offer promised job opportunities and reforms in many places, armed criminal groups filled the vacuum, competing for territory. The conflict has been a complex battle involving the military, left-wing guerrillas like Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and right-wing paramilitaries.

Billions of dollars in aid from the United States has flowed into the country but has failed to stem the drug trade.

Old shell explodes, killing 4 Afghan kids

ISLAMABAD — Unexploded ordnance detonated Saturday in southern Afghanistan, killing four children and injuring three others after the kids brought it inside their school, police and a doctor said.

The incident in Helmand province happened when the children discovered an unexploded shell and brought it inside their religious school and started playing with it, according a statement from the provincial police chief’s office.

The children were ages 7 to 14 and at least three others were injured, according to the police statement.

Three of the children in Saturday’s explosion were killed immediately and a girl later died from her wounds at the hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, according to a doctor there. The physician spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to address the media.

5 Russians die in accident on volcano

MOSCOW — Five people climbing Eurasia’s tallest active volcano have died in an accident and rescuers are trying to extract two other injured climbers, Russian news reports said Saturday.

The climbers were trying to ascend to the top of the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano, when the accident occurred about 1,600 feet below the 15,884-foot summit, the reports cited the prosecutor’s office of the Kamchatka region as saying.

All the climbers were Russians, the reports said. Details of the accident were not immediately known.