MOGADISHU, Jan. 26 — The Somali security forces have rescued 35 children who had been taken as recruits by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab.
The ministry of information said the government is looking after the un-accompanied children who are now receiving full protection and rights after being rescued from terrorists groups on Jan. 19.
“The government will provide all basic services to these children, as the necessity in rehabilitating these children is indeed critical to their long-term physiological and mental well-being,” the ministry said in a statement issued in Mogadishu. The security forces rescued 35 kidnapped male children from an Al-Shabaab indoctrination camp in southern Somalia after receiving credible information on the location of the camp and the activities that were going on for a while. “As soon as the information was verified Somali National Security Forces began their operation, which was very successful,” the ministry said.
The militants claimed during the rescue operation that government forces backed by drones stormed the school in Middle Shabelle region, killing four children and a teacher. There has been no comment on the government on the claim. The government expressed its commitment to carrying out military operations in order to bring peace and safety in the country and vowed never to accept children to be used as militias.
“Terrorists group, Al-Shabaab has no regard to the welfare of children and they demonstrated their cruelty to children. Al-Shabaab indoctrinates children and they force them to terrorist’s activities,” the ministry said. It said the government has made significant progress in stabilizing the country by retaking several territories from the terrorists in order to prevent them from re-grouping and planning further attacks.
The rescue operation came after international human rights group said the militants were forcibly recruiting hundreds of children in recent months. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report launched on Jan. 15 that the recruitment started in mid-2017 and has so far gathered thousands of children for indoctrination after terrorizing elders, teachers in Islamic religious schools, and communities in rural areas.
The rights group said armed group has opened several training centers, under the guise of being religious schools in areas under their control. They use strengthened indoctrination, they teach children of a very young age and have pressured teachers into teaching Al-Shabaab approved programs in schools, HRW said. – XINHUA