Unidentified gunmen abducted five Somali aid workers in Bay region on Thursday, August 9. The victims, employed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Crescent, were kidnapped while traveling between Baidoa and Awdinle. As of Friday, August 10, the location of the aid workers is unknown.
No group has claimed responsibility for the abductions; however, Al-Shabaab is suspected of being behind the incident. The group occasionally targets aid workers that operate in the territory, usually kidnapping them for ransom. In July 2017, seven Somali workers were kidnapped near Baidoa and later released after a ransom was paid. A German national ICRC nurse was also abducted in Mogadishu on May 2, 2018.
Al-Shabaab continues to control large zones in the south and center of Somalia and attacks from the group are frequent across the country, including in Mogadishu. The group often targets government officials and military infrastructure in a bid to topple the Western- and UN-backed government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam in Somalia.
The security environment in Somalia remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.