Somalia claims al-Shabab extremists seek talks for 1st time

Jan 6, 2023, 2:43 PM | Updated: Jan 7, 2023, 5:06 am

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s government claimed Saturday that the al-Shabab extremist group has for the first time asked to open negotiations, amid a military offensive the government has described as “total war.”

There was no immediate statement by al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-affiliate that for well over a decade has carried out high-profile bombings in Somalia’s capital and controlled parts of the country’s central and southern regions, complicating efforts to rebuild the once-failed state after decades of conflict.

“Al-Shabab requested to open negotiations with the Somali government, but there are two groups within al-Shabab,” Deputy Defense Minister Abdifatah Kasim told journalists in Mogadishu. “The first part is foreigners, and the second part is local Somalis. Those locals have a chance to open up negotiations, but those foreigners who invaded our country have no right for talks. The only option is to return to where they are from.”

The deputy defense minister added that “for the Somalis, we are ready to receive them, for they are willing to surrender to the Somali government. They must follow the government’s instructions, reintegrate with their society, or face the Somali National Army in the front lines.”

This is the first time Somalia’s federal government has said that the extremist group has requested talks. In September, during a U.S. visit, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said “they are not willing to negotiate,” while stressing that “we are ready to talk to them” and have sent messages about it.

Al-Shabab numbers several thousand fighters, including an unknown number of foreigners, both from regional countries like neighboring Kenya and beyond. The extremists have carried out several high-profile attacks over the years in Kenya, including in the capital, Nairobi, and at a military base used by the U.S.

Al-Shabab has long sought to impose strict Islamic law in Somalia and seeks the withdrawal of foreign troops operating in the Horn of Africa country. The United States has a military presence in Somalia to combat the extremists, along with Turkey and a multinational African Union force.

Somalia’s president after being elected last year launched a military offensive against al-Shabab with the support of some local militias that have regained control of some communities from the extremists. The president in a New Year’s address vowed to eliminate al-Shabab this year.

The extremists, under pressure as the government seeks to squeeze its sources of financing, have lashed out. An October bombing at a busy intersection in Mogadishu killed at least 120 people, and a pair of bombings Wednesday in a region at the heart of the government offensive killed at least 35 people.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
19 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Tiny California mouse wins Guinness award for longevity

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A tiny California mouse now has a big title after winning a Guinness World record for longevity. A Pacific pocket mouse named Pat — after “Star Trek” actor Patrick Stewart — received the Guinness approval Wednesday as the oldest living mouse in human care at the ripe age of 9 years […]
19 hours ago
This shows a Chinese Dahua brand security camera in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Aust...
Associated Press

Australian Defense Department to remove Chinese-made cameras

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves. The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that at least 913 cameras, intercoms, electronic entry systems and video recorders developed and manufactured by Chinese companies […]
19 hours ago
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, ack...
Associated Press

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un presides over big military parade

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his young daughter to a huge military parade showing off the latest hardware of his fast-growing nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the United States, state media said Thursday. North Korean photos of Wednesday night’s parade in the capital, Pyongyang, […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Filmmaker Ken Burns walks with inmate Rahsaan Thomas at San Quentin State Prison in San Quen...
Associated Press

‘Ear Hustle’ podcast co-host is free from San Quentin prison

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A co-host of “Ear Hustle,” the Pulitzer Prize-nominated podcast produced behind bars, was released from San Quentin State Prison on Wednesday, a year after California Gov. Gavin Newsom commuted his sentence. Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, 52, left the lockup near San Francisco and was greeted by his fellow podcast co-hosts Walter […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Somalia claims al-Shabab extremists seek talks for 1st time