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Somali gov't says "89 suspected terrorists" arrested in Mogadishu

Sunday, July 15, 2012

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MOGADISHU, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The Somali government on Saturday said its security forces arrested 89 people suspected of having links with the militant group of Al-Shabaab in overnight raids in the capital Mogadishu this week.

The raids are part of moves to strengthen the security of the capital ahead of crucial meeting of a National Constituent Assembly (NCA) to ratify a draft constitution for Somalia.

The searches were carried out by a joint force comprising the police force, the national intelligence agency and the members of the Army, a statement from the Somalia's information ministry said.

"(The forces) cordoned off suspected terrorist hideouts in several neighborhoods as part of series of night raids in the capital city of Mogadishu. A total of 89 Al-Shabaab terrorist suspects were arrested and remain in custody," the statement said.

The Somali government is preparing to hold crucial meeting of a National Constitution Assembly in the capital Mogadishu as key part of a process known as the roadmap that will lead the country to move out of a decade-long transitional period.

"The objective of the raid was to weed out the remnants of the al Qaida-affiliated terror group, in the wake of numerous roadmap activities being held in Mogadishu that will pave the way for the return of permanent and representative government," Somali government said.

In the northern town of Balad, the security forces have also launched massive search operations that targeted members of the al Qaida-linked Al-Shabaab rebels.

The town, 30 km north of Mogadishu, was captured from Al- Shabaab by Somali government forces and African Union peacekeepers last month.

In May the town of Afgooye, 30 km west of Mogadishu, was also seized from Al-Shabaab fighters.

Security forces said they have recently foiled a number attacks in the capital. Officials vowed the operations will continue until all security threats were eliminated.

Mogadishu has been relatively peaceful following Al-Shabaab's surprise withdrawal in last August.


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