Somalia: Elders negotiate with al-Shabab over soldiers

Former government troops hoping to return to civilian life in towns under al-Shabab control are laying down their arms.

By Hamza Mohamed

Gal’ad, Somalia “Line up in a straight line. We will do the talking on your behalf,” an elderly man with a henna-dyed beard tells the group of young men. They are standing in front of an iron-gated compound in the centre of the town of Gal’ad in Somalia’s central region of Galguduud, holding AK-47 rifles.
Until a few days ago, the young men, who are all from the town, were government soldiers fighting against al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked group trying to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government. The men are now calling time on frontline service; hoping to put down their guns and return to civilian life in their hometown. But Gal’ad is now firmly in the grip of the rebel group.
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