Al-Shabaab militants defect from the group amid offensive in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Several Al-Shabaab militants in Southwest state defected on Friday, authorities reported, in one of the major shakeups in the group which comes amid reports of internal wrangles within the group, which controls sections of central and southern Somalia.
There have been reports of conflict between Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Diriye alias Abu Ubaida and the group's finance controller Mahad Karate, with their factions recently fighting in Middle Jubba. The two are wrestling for the control of the militants.
According to state media, at least 14 militants have downed their tools, taking advantage of the government's amnesty just before the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab commenced in the state. The Al-Shabaab are under pressure following the activation of military operations across Somalia.
"14 al-Shabaab terrorists surrender to security forces in Baidoa, Somalia. They claim to have defected from the militant group," state media reported, noting that they were received by security teams from the Somali National Army [SNA] ahead of rehabilitation.
The second phase of operations is set to begin soon within Jubaland and Southwest states, with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud asking for a technical pause of withdrawal of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS]. Most soldiers will report to the states after the conclusion of the combing exercise in central Somalia.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited Southwest State on Thursday to check on the progress in the fight against Al-Shabaab, where he addressed several soldiers ahead of the exercise. The president had also ushered in Eritrea-trained troops who jetted into the country this week.
After a stay in Southwest, Hassan Sheikh returned to Galmadug in central Somalia to assess the progress made in the fight against Al-Shabaab. The government of Somalia has expressed confidence that the group will be defeated by December 2024 when local troops are supposed to take over security responsibilities from ATMIS.