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Muslims suffer highest deaths in Al-Shabaab's 10-year killing spree - report

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Muslims have suffered the most under Al-Shabaab, a data entry group has said, even with the militants' claims that they don't target civilians.

Al-Shabaab based in Somalia has caused havoc within Somalia and across the borders, with many of their attacks targeting among others, said forces.

In 2010, the group announced its relationship with Al-Qaida, a terror group that has substantially been degraded thanks to the US.

But since 2006, the Al-Shabaab militants have waged consistent attacks within East Africa, killing thousands of people in the process, the report indicates.

Somalis most affected in the war

More than 4,000 civilians have been killed in al-Shabab attacks since 2010, according to records compiled by the independent group Armed Conflict, Location, and Event Data Project, or ACLED.

But despite claims by Al-Shabaab that it doesn't attack civilians, most of the deaths were recorded in Somalia, a country which is predominantly Islamic.

ACLED says the figure encompasses deaths from shooting attacks, abductions, suicide bombings, and other incidents in which civilians were “determined to be the direct, primary target.”

It excludes deaths from battles with the military or other armed groups, and bombing attacks primarily targeting security forces, ACLED says.

ACLED also says the death toll is “the most conservative fatality estimate.”

Al-Shabaab apologizes to civilians

Last month, the group apologized to civilians following the death of over 80 people after a deadly explosion near Afgoye junction.

The attack, Al-Shabaab said, targeted a Turkish convoy and police officers near the busy function, although the civilians were most affected.

Ali Dhere, the group's spokesman said: "The attack caused the loss of lives and materials of Muslims who were caught in the attack."

“We are very sorry for the loss of our Muslim Somalis and we send our condolences to all those Muslims who died, wounded and those who lost materials."

Turkey is among the key financiers of the UN-backed federal government which Al-Shabaab has sought to topple for a decade now.

Withdrawal of foreign troops

In previous statements, the terror group has often accused the US and its allies of occupying "Muslim lands" forcefully, calling for their withdrawal.

A fortnight ago, the militants ran over a US Naval Base in Lamu, killing three Americans in the process, AFRICOM confirmed.

The group warned that "Kenya shall never be safe again. We shall continue attacking the US interests until troops are withdrawn."

Since then, the US has beefed up security in the region, with AFRICOM Commander Stephen Townsend saying "we shall protect our interests from Al-Shabaab".

Several towns liberated

Although the security forces have managed to push the team from strategic towns, it has managed to hold hostage interior parts of Somalia.

Some of the victims of the militants are Somali security forces and civilians accused of spying on behalf of the foreign troops, the UN recently said.

To sustain their unscrupulous activities, the group has resorted to mafia-style taxation tactics, UN Panel of Experts said in a report.

Medina Hospital, the report says, has reported over 53,000 injury cases linked to Al-Shabaab since 2010. The hospital is the largest public facility in Somalia.

Although peacekeeping troops have managed to liberate strategic towns in Somalia, some have paid heavy prices in the process.

Foreign troops also worst affected

For instance, Kenya Defense Forces troops lost around 300 soldiers when Al-Shabaab attacked Kulbiyow and El Adde army bases, Nairobi confirmed.

Somalia's government has struggled to contain the Al-Shabaab threats, forcing President Mohamed Farmajo to recently call for international backup.

He said: "Terrorism is a global phenomenon and as a country, we need support from partners to defeat this threat."

Despite the persistent threats, the Somalia government has, however, managed to prosecute dozens of the militants through the military court.