Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday urged Somalia’s authorities to intensify investigations into the abduction and killing of seven health workers and a pharmacist, saying government investigations “have not resulted in arrests or prosecutions.”

“On May 27 at about 1:30 p.m., five masked gunmen entered the compound of a mother and child healthcare clinic run by a nongovernmental organization, the Zamzam foundation, in Gololey village, Balcad district, Hirshabelle state. Several witnesses said the gunmen – three in Somali military uniforms, one in a seemingly light blue police uniform, and another in civilian clothes – separated seven male workers from the five female workers,” a HRW’s report said.

“On the afternoon of May 28, residents found the men’s bullet-ridden bodies outside the village,” it added.

No one claimed responsibility for the killings.

The al-Shabab armed group denied any involvement, and the chief of staff of the country’s federal army denied initial allegations from residents of security forces’ involvement.

The father of one man said: “I received a call saying that my son was taken away with the doctors by government soldiers with their faces covered. I wasn’t too worried as they used to take people and bring them back again.”

“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 HRW.

“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,” Bader added.

The HRW went on to say that humanitarian agencies, including health providers, in Somalia “face serious difficulty reaching people in need due to insecurity, targeted attacks on aid workers, generalized violence, and restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict.”

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