14 Al-Shabab militants killed in southern Somalia

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 Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers have killed 14 Al-Shabab militants, including a senior leader in charge of the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia, a military commander confirmed Saturday.

A commander of Unit 66 of the 14 October brigade who led the operation told SNA Radio that Mohamed Nur Shire was killed in a sting operation conducted in the Janale area Friday night.

“SNA killed Mohamed Nur Shire who was in charge of terrorism in the Lower Shabelle region and 13 conspirators in the Janale area,” the military radio reported.

The commander said the main aim of the military operation was to foil an attack that the terrorists who have engaged the government in nearly daily attacks, were planning to carry out in the district.

He said Shire who was the extremist group’s leader in the Lower Shabelle region was responsible for the planning and execution of terror attacks in southern Somalia.

The latest assault came as government forces backed by the African Union forces have stepped up attacks on Al-Shabab in the central part of Somalia, killing more than 200 militants and recovering over 30 villages from the insurgents in the past three weeks.

The operations continue as the government on Saturday said it has suspended 40 Twitter and Facebook accounts that terrorists used to spread their propaganda and violent extremist ideology.

Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Adala told a news conference in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, that anyone found guilty of the dissemination of such hate propaganda will face the full force of the law. “Broadcasting terrorist news has been banned, the government has taken measures and closed about 40 social media accounts where terrorists were broadcasting their news, and any media or individual found spreading the message of that group will be targeted.”

“Any person who spreads Al-Shabab ideology will also be targeted,” Yusuf said in the latest move which comes after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared an all-out war against the militants.

He said the military operations to flush out Al-Shabab militants from their strongholds will be intensified to stop extortion of the Somali people and the spread of propaganda, intimidation, and extremism in Somalia.

President Mohamud last month called on citizens to stay away from areas controlled by the militants ahead of major offensives against the al-Qaida allied terror group. Mohamud said the militant group will be confronted on all fronts, noting that they will be subjected to airborne attacks including raids in a bid to weaken its presence in Somalia.

Despite increased operations, the extremist group still controls some parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out high-profile attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere. 

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