Vicinity of Qorof and Dhabad villages, Somalia-Ethiopia border –
Five boys, all under 13 years old, were murdered Monday night while asleep between the Dhabad and Qorof villages. The atrocity was reportedly a result of clan-based animosity along the Somalia–Ethiopia border. Dhabad is a border town in the Galgaduud region of Somalia; Qorof is inside the Somali region of Ethiopia.
A sixth boy was initially kidnapped but later released since there was a dispute among the culprits about whether to kill him. When one of the dispute sides prevailed, the child was released, walked back to Dhabad, and described some details about the criminals. The boy who survived said the men drove a Toyota pickup truck with a mounted machine gun.
According to local reports, a group of ten gunmen murdered the children while they were sleeping in a religious Quranic school, also referred to as a madrasa. They all escaped before police officers arrived at the scene. The children had reportedly returned from a wedding party.
The identity of the perpetrators is known to the locals. They were allegedly spotted in Dhusamareb a few days before when receiving ammunition. They descend from the Saleebaan subclan, specifically the Reed Muuse. Although the motive is unknown, there has been an ongoing feud between the Saleebaan and Marehan subclans, a conflict that has persisted in the region for a long time. The murder could be an act of clan revenge within the frames of this conflict.
Almost 24 hours have passed since the tragic incident happened. Concerningly, the highest levels of Somali politics remain silent. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the President of Galmudug State, Ahmed Abdi Karie, widely known as Qoor Qoor, have yet to make statements.
Their silence is especially deafening, considering the Somali President’s visit to Galmudug just days ago to spearhead the second phase of the military offensive against al-Shabaab. Earlier that week, National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) chief Mahad Salad held a strategy meeting with President Qoor Qoor, reportedly preparing the offensive operations.