Somalia National Army, backed by AMISOM forces, have taken over of an Al Shabaab controlled town in the Lower Shabelle region, freeing dozens of children in the process. The town of Kuntuwaarey, in the southwest of Somalia, located 208 kilometers from the capital, Mogadishu, has for many years been a strategic stronghold for Al Shabaab.
The “Somali National Army, backed by units from the African Union peacekeepers, has taken control of this strategic town from the militants,” said Isaq Ali Subag, the minister of internal security for the region.
Mr. Subag said Al Shabaab had been using the town as a base to launch attacks on cities and towns in the region that are controlled by the Somali government. “The militants have used the city as a military base from which to organize attacks they carry out in other parts of the region, and to run courts in which they impose taxes and other unfair sentences to innocent people,” he said.
Following the capture of the town, the joint troops carrying out house-to-house searches freed 33 children from the militants, according to Somali military commanders.
“The 33 rescued children were held in an Al Shabaab run center in the town. They told us they were forcibly taken from their parents,” Colonel Ismail Abdi Maalimtold government military radio. “The militants were indoctrinating the children to draft them into their ranks.”
Al Shabaab has lost control of several towns in the past couple of years as Somalia’s American trained ‘Danab’ forces and AU forces stepped up efforts to rid the country of the Al Qaida linked group.