Somalia: Clan militia fighting Al-Shabaab not armed by Govt, says president
The clan militia fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia have not been armed by the federal government, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has confirmed, clearing doubt that the government is responsible for the heavy mobilization of the groups which have made significant gains in the war.
For the last three months, a number of clans have buried their differences and opted to fight alongside the national army, the US Africa Command, and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] who have been jointly pursuing Al-Shabaab militants in the Horn of Africa nation.
At Djibouti where he's on a working trip, President Hassan Sheikh said the government was only interested in supporting the clans in helping the national army liberate as many towns as possible and install civilian rule after years of Al-Shabaab dominance in some regions.
"The government did not arm the clans, but supported them to liberate their settlements and towns from Al-Shabaab, " said Hassan Sheikh, who has activated a total crackdown against Al-Shabaab across the country, adding that Somalia is not about to relent in the war which aims at eliminating the militants.
He added: " We are happy with the progress they have made this far in supporting their motherland. This is the kind of patriotism that we all envisage and luckily, it is paying off. We shall continue to put the militants on our toes and they are completely flushed out of our country. "
Most clans have ganged up against Al-Shabaab and even assisted the national army to regain control in strategic villages across the country. It is not clear who arms the militia but investigations indicate they are well-equipped and trained to face adversaries on the battlefield.
Al-Shabaab militants have lost several strategic towns with the government confirming that over 500 of them have been killed in different parts of the country. On Wednesday, the national army confirmed that it managed to find a mass grave where the militants have been burying the bodies of their colleagues.
The president reaffirmed to the international community that his government will confront Al-Shabaab both ideologically and militarily until they cede grounds. Later on, and for the sake of reconciliation, the government will engage the militants for formalized talks, he added.