Somalia forces launch offensive to remove Al-Shabaab from remaining areas
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Somali National Army [SNA] shifted focus to the Mudug region within Galmadug as the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab kicks off across the country with the forces now keen to liberate all strategic areas before installing civilian administrations for the stability of the country.
For the last several years, Mudug has been the epicenter of heavy clashes between Al-Shabaab and government forces in central Somalia, but the troops are yet to decisively take control of the area. The second phase of operations was unveiled by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud last week.
According to witnesses, Galmudug Darwish forces conducted operations against Al-Shabaab, mainly targeting Qeycad, Jiic Dheere, Las Gacamey, and Ilbalac in the Mudug region. The resumption of operations has been welcomed by locals, the government said.
Top officials from the regional army said the main goal was to ensure the Mudug region has been liberated from the militants especially areas that Al-Shabaab still controls. The army maintains operations will not be stopped until all Al-Shabaab remnants surrender to the government.
The federal government of Somalia said at least 3,000 Al-Shabaab militants were killed during the first phase while 3,700 others were critically injured. This is the highest number of militants to be killed within a short period in Somalia, security analysts say.
Besides the military operations, the government is also targeting the group's source of revenue, particularly extortion. The FGS also said that over 70 mobile money transfer firms and 250 bank accounts linked to Al-Shabaab have been closed down in the country.
Also incorporated in the war are religious scholars who are instrumental in downplaying the Al-Shabaab recruitment philosophy which targets young and jobless youths across Somalia. The group has witnessed a reduction in revenue according to the government which claims it has reduced by "half" but did not give records for reference.