World Bulletin / News Desk
A 45-day ultimatum and amnesty offer by the Somali government has seen dozens of Al-Shabaab militants surrender their arms, a government official has said.
"We are receiving defectors on a daily basis since the president issued the amnesty," National Security spokesman Mohamed Yusuf Osman told Anadolu Agency by phone.
"We are talking about a number of about 100 to 130 who have so far defected since the leader of the group Ahmed Godane was killed," he said.
The amnesty was announced by the president after the killing of the top militant.
In a major blow to the militant group, Godane was killed by a U.S. drone attack earlier this month in Somalia's remote Lower Shebelle Region.
Osman said most of those who have surrendered are from the newly-liberated regions of southern and central Somalia.
Once controlling most of south and central Somalia, Al-Shabaab has recently lost ground to the Somali army and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
Late last month, the Somali government and the African peacekeepers launched a massive joint military operation – dubbed "Operation Indian Ocean" – against the militant group.
The offensive has seen Al-Shabaab lose most of its strongholds.
"Amnesty by the Somali government is open to all who surrender whether foot soldiers or top commanders," Osman told AA.
"We intend with the help of AMISOM to have them undergo a rehabilitation program before letting them back to the society," he said.
"These are mostly teenagers and young men who were either forced into the group when Al-Shabaab captured their regions or were brainwashed by radical preachers," added the official.
According to the Somali government and AMISOM, the rehabilitation program will take a period of nine months to one year for each defector.
It will include training in different skills.
Al-Shabaab has yet to issue a statement on the alleged defections of its fighters.
Established in 2004, Al-Shabaab has battled the government for control of territory throughout Somalia.
Somalia, a long-troubled country in the Horn of Africa, has remained in the grip of on-again, off-again violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.Last Mod: 22 Eylül 2014, 09:58