Somali, US commandos storm al-Shabab camp, rescue child soldiers

Somali, US commandos storm al-Shabab camp, rescue child soldiers
In an overnight raid, Somali and US commandos stormed an extremist camp for al-Shabab militants, killing four of the fighters and rescuing dozens of children conscripted.
2 min read
20 January, 2018
Thirty boys were rescued in the overnight raid [Getty]
Somali and US commandos stormed a camp for al-Shabab extremist fighters in an overnight raid, killing at least four of the fighters and rescuing dozens of child conscripts, a Somali intelligence official said Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to AP because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said special forces raided the camp in Jame'o village in Middle Shabelle region. A local commander was among those killed, he said.

A second official confirmed the raid, which was carried out with the support of helicopters that later evacuated the young recruits.

Human Rights Watch earlier in the week accused al-Shabab of the forced recruitment of hundreds of children in recent months. The recruitment of children is a long-standing practice of the al-Qaeda-linked group which faces growing military pressure across south and central Somalia.

Thirty boys were rescued in the overnight raid, Somalia's information minister, Abdirahman Omar Osman, told AP.

"Al-Shabab bas once again demonstrated their barbarity and their complete disregard for human rights," the minister said.

"The group uses these indoctrination camps to brainwash young men and force them to conduct attacks and suicide bombings."

He said Somalia's military was making "significant progress" in retaking territory from the extremist group.

US airstrike

Also on Friday, the US military said it had carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed four members of the al-Shabab extremist group.

A statement from the US Africa Command said the strike was carried out on Thursday about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo. The statement said no civilians were killed.

The US military carried out more than 30 drone strikes last year in the long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation after President Donald Trump approved expanded military efforts against al-Shabab.

The al-Qaeda-linked Shabab has been fighting to overthrow successive internationally backed governments in Mogadishu since 2007 and frequently deploys car and truck bombs against military, government and civilian targets.

The Shabab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011 but has continued its fight and still controls vast rural areas.

The group is widely blamed for the country's worst ever bombing which in October left 512 dead.

Thursday's US airstrike was the first since one early this month that killed two al-Shabab extremists and destroyed a vehicle carrying explosives, "preventing it from being used against the people in Mogadishu."

Last year, Somalia's Somali-American president vowed that his government would drive the extremist group out of the country.