Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced the launch of the second phase of an offensive against the al-Shabab militant group, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by several countries and organizations.
The announcement came during the opening of the South West reconciliation conference in Baidoa, the temporary capital of the South West State.
In recent months, government forces, with the aid of armed citizens, have made significant gains against the al-Shabab group, recapturing key towns in the Galmudug region and forcing the militants from swathes of territory in central Somalia.
Defence Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur announced Tuesday that the joint forces had taken El-Dher, a town under the group’s control for over a decade. The town, located 291 km from the capital Mogadishu, is a historical town bordering Harardhere in the Mudug region and close to the Elbur district.
This news comes after the government forces captured the coastal town of Harardhere on Monday, which the Al-Shabaab had held for over a decade.
The President stated that the first phase of the operation in HirShabelle and Galmudug states is nearing completion and that the government has prepared many troops to liberate al-Shabab-controlled areas in the country.
He also announced that the next step in the operation to defeat the al-Shabab group and free the country would launch in the South West region of Somalia.
“Al-Shabab militants are the only enemy Somalis have; they murder men, women, children, the elderly, and every Somali. The government has developed plans to eradicate them from the country, the first phase is almost complete, and the second phase will launch in the Southwest State of Somalia,” the President said.
The President also highlighted the importance of unifying efforts to free the country from terrorist groups. He emphasized that the government’s current policy is to liberate the country from al-Shabab and that all Somalis must unite to eradicate the terrorist group.
“We must combine all of our efforts to liberate our country from terrorists draining the people’s blood, murdering, and posing a threat to the people’s economy,” said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The President also said that young men fighting with Al-Shabaab have the opportunity to lay down their arms and receive amnesty from the government.
The President emphasized that anyone who chooses to leave al-Shabab and defect will be granted forgiveness and amnesty. He further highlighted that the government was offering amnesty and prepared to provide better living conditions for those who defected from the group.
The President encouraged parents with children fighting alongside the al-Shabab group to reach out to their children before being killed in ongoing operations.
He stressed that the al-Shabab group kills men, women, and children, threatens the country’s economy, and clogs the roadways due to their terror activities.
Al-Shabab has been waging an insurgency against the Somali government since 2006, which has resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of civilians.