35 children rescued from an al-Shabaab camp last week will be sent to rehabilitation centres for ex-militants before being reunited with their families, the Somali government has said.
According to Abdirashid Ibrahim Mohamed, who directs the government program to re-integrate former Al-Shabab foot soldiers and low-risk defectors from the group back into Somali society, the children must have religious lessons aimed at guiding them away from radical views of Islam.
“We are still investigating how long the kids, who are under 18 years old, have been in the Al-Shabab indoctrination center and how far they were radicalized. We should tell them the right way of life before they reunite with their families,” he told VOA’s Somali service.
The US and Somali special operations forces recovered the 35 children during a raid on an al-Shabab camp at Jamea Jidyale, a village approximately 70 kilometers west of Mogadishu.
The US military confirmed on Wednesday the January 18th operation and reported the forces that took part in the mission.
“During the mission, the Somali National Security Forces received hostile fire and in the ensuing firefight, five ‘enemy combatants’ were killed and six were wounded. Some of those killed appear to have been under the age of 18,” the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM said in a statement.
According to Somali government officials involved in the operation, U.S. soldiers provided advice and the helicopters that transported the Somali forces to the raided camp, but did not fire their weapons during the operation.
US military activities in Somalia have increased as they target Al-Shabaab leaders through recent airstrikes and helping to train federal government soldiers.
The African Union mission in Somalia, AMISOM intends to withdraw its troops by 2020 and leave security in the hands of Somali authorities.
Source: CGTN Africa