A Somali government soldier talks to blind-folded suspects detained during a security operation against suspected militant Islamist group al Shabaab sympathisers in Hodan district of the capital Mogadishu, December 8, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
At least seven women have been killed in "barbaric" attacks in Somalia after Shebab insurgents beheaded a soldier's wife, prompting revenge executions of women close to the Islamists, elders said Thursday.
The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab earlier this week snatched two women -- a soldier's wife and a chef for the government troops -- before chopping the heads off both, elders in the southwestern Tiyeglow district told AFP.
"It was horrible, Al-Shebab killed two innocent women connected with the government troops," said Aliyow Isack, an elder.
In revenge, the widowed soldier and his colleagues rounded up women connected to Shebab fighters.
"For the death of the two women, they arrested 10 women whom they said were wives of Al-Shebab militants, killing five before the elders rescued and freed the rest," Isack added.
Tiyeglow, in the Somalia's war-torn Bakool region, some 175 kilometres (110 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, was recently wrested from the Shebab by government troops, who fight alongside the UN-mandated African Union force.
Shebab gunmen still control rural areas around the town and stage regular attacks, but the killings earlier this week shocked many in their brutality.
"Can you imagine what happened? It was a completely barbaric act against humans," said Mohamed Malim, another elder. "They were innocent women, some of those killed might have been married by force to the gunmen."
Mohamed Adale Hassan, a local district official, confirmed the killings and said they were investigating the attacks.
Shebab rebels have carried out repeated attacks in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya as part of their fight to overthrow the country's internationally-backed government, as well as the AU troops supporting it.