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Somalia: regional leaders meet to discuss fight against Al-Shabaab

Regional Summit of the Frontline States in Mogadishu, Somalia, January 2023.   -  
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Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud hosted a summit with his Kenyan, Ethiopian and Djibouti counterparts to discuss a joint military offense against islamist insurgents Al-Shabaab.

The four leaders of the Horn of Africa region are due to discuss a coordinated military offensive against the Al-Qaeda linked group, which has been waging an insurgency in the troubled Horn of Africa nation for more than 15 years.

President Mohamud has declared an "all-out war" on jihadists upon taking office in May 2022, rallying Somalis to help flush out members of the islamist group.

Stringent security restrictions are in force in the Somali capital, including the suspension of all commercial flights into Mogadishu.

In recent months, the army and local clan militia have retaken territory from the militants in an operation backed by US air strikes and the African Transitional Mission in Somalia.

The 20,000-strong African Union force is drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, with troops deployed in southern and central Somalia.

Its goal is to gradually reduce troop numbers to zero by the end of 2024 with security to be assumed by Somalia's army and police.

"This collaboration is expected to lead to the quick liberation of the country from the renegades who have been dealt heavy blows on the battlefield in the past few weeks," the Somali government said on Tuesday.

Al-Shabaab remains entrenched in the countryside from where they have carried out numerous attacks both in Somalia and neighboring countries.

In the deadliest attack since the offensive launched last October in Mogadishu, 121 people were killed in two car bomb explosions at the education ministry.

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