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Many Shabaab mercenaries - president

15 February 2016, 10:50

Munich - Somalia's president says military forces have made inroads in their fight against al-Shabaab militants but the key to defeating them lies in providing better opportunities for the country's youth.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Sunday told a gathering of top defence officials and diplomats that 70% of his country's population is under 35 and have grown up in the chaos of a lawless state after the government collapsed in 1991.

He says that's left them "very, very vulnerable to be recruited by the evil forces" like al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab.

Mohamud says many of those fighting for al-Shabaab "are not there for ideological reasons, they are there for economic reasons ... to feed their families."

Somalia faces regular al-Shabaab attacks even after driving them from the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011.

- AP


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