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Al-Shabaab launches scary mission after Lamu lecture

Al Shabaab on Sunday paraded and lectured Lamu residents.

The report which comes a day after the militants paraded dozens of people on Sunday in Lamu for  a forced radicalisation lecture, revealed that parents have been in the recent past told to hand over their their children, as young as eight, for “indoctrination and military training", the AFP reported.

The recruitment, which begun mid-2017, has been intense in security shady are in Bay region and along Kenya-Somali border. The jihadists, the watchdog said in a report, have been taking reprisals against communities who refuse to cooperate.

“Al-Shabab’s ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “To escape that cruel fate, many children have fled school or their homes.”

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Village elders near Baidoa in southwestern Somalia told HRW that in September, Shabaab militants ordered them to hand over dozens of children between the ages of nine and 15.

"They said we needed to support their fight. They spoke to us in a very threatening manner. They also said they wanted the keys to our boreholes. They kept us for three days. We said we needed to consult with our community. They gave us 10 days," one resident told HRW.

The community refused to hand over the children, and has since received threatening calls including death threats.

That same month residents of Burkhaba District said Shabaab fighters had forcibly taken at least 50 boys and girls from two schools to a village called Bulo Fulay, reported to host a "number of religious schools and a major training facility".

A large group of Shabaab militants returned two weeks later to another local school and threatened the teacher who refused to hand over the children, said HRW.

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"They wanted 25 children ages eight to 15," the teacher told HRW.

"They didn't say why, but we know that it's because they want to indoctrinate them and then recruit them."

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