Somalia expects new military push against Al Shabaab

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Addis Ababa, 8 August 2014 (WIC) - Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said Tuesday he expected a new military drive by African Union and Somali forces to start in the next few days to push al Shabaab militants from more territory.

"Operation Indian Ocean is going to start within the next few days," Mohamud said in an interview during a visit to Washington, where he is attending a summit of African leaders.

Al Shabaab ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011 when African forces drove them out of Mogadishu and then expelled them from most urban centers.

But the al Qaeda-aligned Islamists, who sought to impose a very strict version of Islamic sharia law, still hold swathes of territory.
Mohamud said those areas would be the focus of the operation.

"We have all the measures in place to make sure that Operation Indian Ocean will definitely succeed," he added.

The president dismissed a recent spate of attacks in Mogadishu -- which include the killing of a lawmaker last week -- as the "last kick" of a group he said was being squeezed by Somalia and African Union forces.

He said the same of al Shabaab's attacks overseas, which include an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last year which killed 67 people.

"This is a sign of weakness," Mohamud remarked.

Mohamud said he felt confident in his own personal security despite attempts on his life over the years.

Militants have repeatedly attacked the presidential compound, including a car bomb strike in July.

According to ERTA, "Al Shabaab has been attempting to eliminate myself and other top leadership. (standardmedia.co.ke)