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Mahaday district, 25km north of Jowhar, is now controlled by the al-Shabaab insurgent militia battling for control of the country. While the residents of Mahaday are used to seeing al-Shabaab militia visit the town in vehicles or by foot, this is the first time they have seen fighters using horses.
These men are believed to have come from Jowhar and Bal'ad towns which are still controlled by the al-Shabaab fighters.
Sugow Abdikadir, a resident from Mahaday district, confirmed the arrival of the foreign men in an interview with Somalia Report.
“At around 2pm on Tuesday afternoon five foreign men reached the town of Mahaday. They were riding horses and three of them were wearing black masks while the remaining two were not covering their faces. They were black men and their language was unfamiliar to the people who gathered in the town centre upon their arrival. They were all equipped with AK-47s," said Sugow Abdikadir.
He said the foreigner spoke to the residents and asked them some questions, but none of the people could speak or understand their language.
Nasteha Ali, a local shop owner, said the men stopped in the front of her shop.
“I was in my shop and I suddenly saw some men riding horses. I thought they were members of the militia, but we have never seen them riding horses in the town. I started looking at them closely only to realize they were not even Somali men. One of them talked to me but I couldn’t understand why he was asking. The nearby people started gathering around the men at my shop front and everyone was looked at them in amazemen," Nasteha told Somalia Report.
“After a long miscommunication, Guure, a teacher of one of the private schools in Mahaday district, talked to the foreign men in English. He directed them to where the al-Shabaab militia was staying," she added.
Other residents told Somalia Report the men are still in the Mahaday base with the al-Shabaab militia.
After speaking with one another, the residents concluded the men were likely Nigerian, however this could not be confirmed. They added this was the first time the men had been in their town.
The al-Shabaab militia in the town did not issue any comment about their arrival.
Nigeria is home to the Salafist Jihadist group Boko Haram Islamist group which means, 'Western Education is Sinful.' The group is also known as Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad). In January and February of this year, several media outlets reported that fighters from Boko Haram received training from al-Shabaab after a string of bombings hit Nigeria.