Somali Army kills 67 al-Shabab militants, seizes explosives

Armed al-Shabab fighters ride on pickup trucks as they prepare to travel into the city, just outside the capital Mogadishu. [AP Photo]

Somalia’s army said it has killed 67 al-Shabab militants and seized large amounts of explosives in an operation in the north-central Mudug region.

Brigadier General Mohamed Tahlil Bihi told reporters Tuesday the military was acting on intelligence about movements of the al-Shabab group.

Bihi said the operation in the Harardhere district of central Mudug region took place at around 1 a.m. when 120 jerrycans containing improvised explosive devices were offloaded from a boat and carried in a vehicle that was guided by 69 militants. Bihi said Somalia’s National Army fired rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicle and destroyed it. He said only two militants were captured alive.

VOA could not independently verify the army’s casualty figures.

Somalia’s army has been conducting joint offensives with local militias against the Islamist militants since last July as part of an all-out war against the group.

In a town hall meeting Monday night, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared that al-Shabab would be eliminated by the end of the year.

Mohamud said the second phase of the operation would soon begin in Somalia’s South West State and in the Jubaland region.

Somalia is also depending on troops from Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya after the neighboring countries in January agreed to jointly launch military operations against al-Shabab strongholds.