MOGADISHU, Somalia, (AP) – Masked gunmen killed five foreign Islamic preachers Wednesday outside a mosque in Somalia, witnesses said. The preachers are believed to be Pakistanis.
Six gunmen with assault rifles and pistols stormed Tawfiq Mosque in Galkayo, 470 miles (750 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Mogadishu, and forced six Pakistani preachers and a Somali man outside, said Ismail Mohamud Hassan, who was in the mosque at the time. The gunmen then opened fire on the men, he said.
“Five of them died on the spot while two others were injured — one Pakistani and a Somali,” Hassan told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Abdullahi Ali Nur, another witness who was in the mosque, said the foreigners on Tuesday told worshippers that they were Pakistani. It is not clear who is behind Wednesday’s killing. Somali militiamen rarely target religious preachers, known as Tabliq, who freely move around the overwhelmingly Muslim country.
Galkayo is a key town in central Somalia, which only sees sporadic violence and never to the level of the near-daily violence witnessed in Mogadishu, where thousands of civilians have been killed in the past 2 1/2 years.
Somalia has been mired in anarchy and chaos for 18 years. Warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, plunging the country into a seemingly unending cycle of violence.