Somalia: Months after health care workers’ executions by armed men, Government investigations still pending

Somalia:-Months-after-health-care-workers’-executions-by-armed-men

The horrific incident took place on May 27 at about 1:30 p.m. As per the reports five masked gunmen entered the compound of a healthcare clinic run by a nongovernmental organization, the Zamzam foundation, in Gololey village, Balcad district, Hirshabelle state.

Somalia Army Men: It been six months since seven health workers and a pharmacist was abducted by Somalia army men, who were later found dead with bullet shots on their bodies. What’s shocking was not the belligerent reprisal and executions by Somali armed forces but the government’s oblivious attitude towards the investigation over the matter. Months have passed, yet no arrests or prosecutions have been made. Hope for justice in the Gololey village, where the massacre occurred, has started to appear as a far fetched thought.  

The horrific incident took place on May 27 at about 1:30 p.m. As per the reports five masked gunmen entered the compound of a healthcare clinic run by a nongovernmental organization, the Zamzam foundation, in Gololey village, Balcad district, Hirshabelle state. As per the witnesses’ accounts three of five gunmen were in Somalia military uniforms, one in a light blue police uniform, and another in civilian clothes. They held seven male workers, and a local pharmacist, blindfolded them and took them along. There was no news about where the men were being taken and the relatives of the abducted men also did not worry as it was normal for men to be taken by armed forces for questioning. They generally returned after interrogation. It was only on the afternoon of May 28, that the villagers discovered what happened to those men as they found the dead bodies of the men with bullet marks on bodies and hands tied, lying outside the village.

One of the clinic’s staff member, who saw their bodies said, said: “Their faces were still covered, and their hands were tied … I was shocked. Most of them had bullets that struck the head, and their brains had come out.”

“The heinous summary execution of seven health workers and a pharmacist left a rural community reeling from the loss of their loved ones and in dire need of health care,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The possible involvement of security forces in this appalling incident puts an even greater onus on the government to thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible and appropriately compensate the victims’ families.”

The heinous summary execution of seven health workers and a pharmacist left a rural community reeling from the loss of their loved ones and in dire need of health care. The possible involvement of security forces in this appalling incident puts an even greater onus on the government to thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible and appropriately compensate the victims’ families.

Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch

No one claimed the responsibility for the killings, neither the local militant group Al-Shabab, nor the Somalia security forces. But the village residents accused Somali government soldiers for the attack. One of the village elder told reporters, “The abductors were government soldiers and they carried out the execution, apparently as revenge for the killing of nine soldiers by a roadside bomb on Tuesday.”

A day before their abduction, Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an explosive attack which hit a Somali National Army convoy on the outskirts of Gololey village. Security forces rounded up residents and took them for interrogation for regular basis as they suspected that the villagers were helping the militant group. Besides, Gololey has been a key location where Al-Shabaab executed many of its attacks on military conveys. The village is located between Jowhar, capital of Hirshabelle state, and Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. It probably was Somalia army’s way of taking revenge for the blast.

UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator Adam Abdelmoula said in a statement, slamming the attack on the health workers. “Attacks against medical facilities and personnel are unacceptable and a breach of international humanitarian law and any common decency.” Despite many international bodies seeking “transparent and thorough investigation” the only thing Somali government offered for the victims of the massacre was its condolences. Many of the victims’ friends and families still await justice but the authorities have been brushing off the matter by stating that investigations were pending. HRW said, “Attacks on medical staff challenge the very foundations of the laws of war, and will persist if those responsible go unpunished. The government should show that they can credibly investigate and appropriately prosecute an incident that devastated a community at a time when health workers are so urgently needed.”

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