MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali army forces backed by African Union troops have taken control of a strategic town from Al Shabab militant group during joint militaty operation.
The coalition forces recaptured Kuntuwaarey town in south west of Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, some 208km from the capital, Mogadishu.
Somali military officail, who asked to be anonymous, said the town had been a strategic stronghold for al-Shabab for many years.
He says the Somali army and African Union troops had completed an operation against a school run by al-Shabaab, rescuing 32 children who had been taken as recruits by the militant group.
“We have freed 33 children. It is unfortunate that terrorists are recruiting children to their twisted ideology,” the army said.
In mid 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Al-Shabaab of ordering elders and teachers in rural parts of Somalia to provide them with children or face reprisals.
The rights group says Al Shabaab had recruited thousands of children for indoctrination and to become frontline fighters over the past decade in Somalia.
The militant group was also accused of pressuring religious schools to teach al Shabaab’s curriculum.
Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked al Shabaab has been fighting to topple the weak-western backed government based in the capital, Mogadishu.
The group also carried out deadly attacks on government installations, hotels and other public gatherings in Mogadishu, with dozens were killed.