SOMALIA: PRESIDENT FARMAJO DECLARES WAR ON AL-SHABAAB

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Somalia's President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo

Somalia’s President Mohammed Abdullah Farmajo is expected to declare a “state of war” against the al-Shabaab extremist group thought to be responsible for last Saturday’s deadly attack on Mogadishu.

According to a Somali military official, the United States will support this new offensive set to be launched on Saturday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press because he was not authorised to speak to reporters.

The death toll in last week’s deadly attacks in the Somali capital has risen to 358, as scores remain missing.

Somalia’s army spokesman Capt. Abdullahi Iman said the offensive involving thousands of troops will try to push al-Shabaab fighters out of their strongholds in the Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle regions, where many deadly attacks on Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and on Somali and African Union bases have been launched.

US military said on Friday that it has resumed its fight against al-Shabaab with drone strikes.

The extremist group is yet to comment on the truck bombing that killed hundreds and left many others maimed. According to Somali intelligence officials it was meant to target the city’s heavily fortified international airport, where many countries have their embassies.

The bomb, said to have weighed between 600kg and 800kg, detonated in a crowded street after soldiers opened fire and flattened one of the truck’s tires.

Somalia’s information minister Abdirahman Osman said late Friday that as at now 56 people still missing. Another 228 people were wounded, and 122 had been airlifted for treatment in Turkey, Sudan and Kenya.

A sheikh who led prayers for the dead on Friday said the pain will last for years, as long lines of mourners stood in front of flattened or mangled buildings.

Since the election of the country’s Somali-American president in February, the government has announced a number of military offensives against al-Shabaab, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, only to end them weeks later with no explanation. Experts believe that has gave the extremists breathing space and emboldened them in their guerrilla attacks.

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