At least 19 civilians have been killed in an attack by al-Shabaab militant group in the central region of the African country of Somalia.

Al-Shabaab members attacked the militant group’s Hiran area in the semi-autonomous Hirshabal Raj on Friday night, Al-Jazeera reported.

The dead citizens were traveling from Baladoine town to Mahas town with food aid.

Al-Shabaab fighters set fire to the trucks and “killed most of the civilians in the vehicles,” state news agency Sonar reported.

Abdullahi Hared, a local tribal elder, told a Paris-based news agency, “The militants massacred innocent civilians who were traveling last night. I can’t say the exact number of casualties, 19 bodies have been found so far.”

“The bodies are still being found,” said Ali Zeiti, the governor of Hiran region; Among the dead are women and children. This number may exceed 20.”

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, they said their attack was aimed at fighters from a local faction, which has recently been helping government forces.

Last month, members of the militant group entered the Hyatt Hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, killing more than 20 people.

(September 4)