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Somali forces say detained 500 with Islamist links


Saturday, July 07, 2012

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali security forces said Saturday they had detained over 500 people in a two-day operation in the Mogadishu area who were either Islamist rebel fighters or had have links to them.

"The crackdown on remnants of Al-Qaeda affiliated militants was carried out in several districts yesterday (Friday) and today," Kalif Ahmed Ereg, one of the Somali commanders who took part in the operation told reporters.

"We have arrested around eight thousand suspects and after investigations, 507 of them have so far been confirmed to be Shebab fighters or to have links to the Shebab," Ereg said.

The operation, conducted by Somali forces and their African Union allies, centered on Mogadishu and the nearby town of Afgoye, long a stronghold of the Al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab rebels, until pro-government forces regained control of it in May.

Officials said nearly 3,000 security personnel took part in the operation.

Witnesses accused Somali forces of making indiscriminate arrests.

"They stormed houses, raided businesses and rounded people up on the street. I can say everyone was arrested today in Huriwa district," of the capital, Mohamed Adan Ali, a witness, said.

"They were arresting people indiscriminately. My cousin, who arrived only very recently from South Africa is among those arrested today," Ibrahim Omar, another witness said.



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