Some 200 Al Shabaab militants surrendered to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces Saturday in Garsale, nearly 80 kilometres from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, even as the Al-Qaeda linked group continues to suffer significant setbacks.
The number is expected to rise to 250, AMISOM said.
The first militants disengaged from Al Shabaab group on Saturday morning giving themselves up peacefully to the AMISOM forces. Over 200 militants, including two senior Al Shabaab commanders, were under AMISOM control by the afternoon. Close to 80 weapons were recovered.
Spokesperson for the African Union forces Colonel Ali Adan Hamud said those who surrendered had decided to give up fighting for Al Shabaab to join government forces.
This followed infighting between militants deployed to the region in which rival militants killed eight Al Shabaab forces.
Local journalists say the disengaged fighters were taken “peacefully” into Amisom’s protection to be transferred to Mogadishu for rehabilitation.
Brigadier Michael Ondoga, Deputy Force Commander of operations, said: “Today’s events confirm that Al-Shabaab is divided and being defeated across Somalia. Somalia is moving towards a secure and stable future free from the scourge of violence and terror. The political transition has ended, and the Somali people have the opportunity to shape together a more peaceful future.
“We call on all those who want peace not terror to lay down their arms. A number have contacted AMISOM indicating their wish to cease fighting. We have assured them of their safety if they give themselves up peacefully to AMISOM forces, as those surrendering in Garsale have done today.”
The divisions in Al Shabaab follows a series of attacks in Mogadishu by the militant group even as a new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected earlier this month.
Last Thursday, Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for bombing a hotel in Mogadishu killing 14 people. A member of the new federal parliament Mustafa Haji was also gunned down on Saturday after evening prayers in Mogadishu.
The Mogadishu bombings, security analysts say, is because of Al Shabaab’s serious infiltration in Mogadishu “even stemming all way to top security and military officials.”
AMISOM conducts a Peace Support Operation in Somalia “to stabilize the security situation, including the take over from Ethiopian Forces, and to create a safe and secure environment in preparation for the transition to the UN.”