Somalia's new president has declared war on Al-Shabaab terrorists, blamed for thousands of deaths in the country. Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed offered a 60-day amnesty period to militants to surrender and vowed to help them reintegrate into society.
"President Farmaajo declares state of war and urges Somali People to stand with the Armed Forces in the fight against terror groups," read a statement issued by the presidency.
Dressed in military uniform as he addressed journalists on 6 April, Mohamed said: "We want to pardon the Somali youth who were misled by Al-Shabaab. The government cordially welcomes them. We shall give them education; we shall create jobs for them. We do not want to kill our youth. We urge you again to leave Al-Shabaab as soon as possible. You have 60 days."
The president – who took office in February following indirect election – made the remarks as he reshuffled top security personnel.
The shake-up saw the appointment of new military and police commanders, a director of national security and intelligence and a new head of prison forces, Reuters reported. Mohamed also appointed a new mayor for the capital Mogadishu.
"We have ordered all the security forces and military to be ready for making peace and today there is a new change in the military commanders, security officials," Mohamed said.
In his speech, the head of state did not mention the recent directive by US President Donald Trump that increased US military strikes against militants in the country.
The government's amnesty came after a spate of attacks that rocked Mogadishu as well as kidnappings of aid workers in the drought-hit country, where half of the population is facing hunger.
At least 20 people travelling in a minibus were killed in a roadside bomb explosion in Lower Shabelle in southern Somalia on 6 April. Governor Ibrahim Aden Ali of Lower Shabelle blamed Al-Shabaab, which denied involement in the attack.
Who are Al-Shabaab militants?
Al-Shabaab, which means "The Youth", is a Somali terror group affiliated with al-Qaeda and Isis. An offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union – a rival administration to the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia – Shabaab aims to overthrow the Somali government and impose its own version of Islam in the country.
It controlled Mogadishu and the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when it was defeated by African Union peacekeepers.
Shabaab often targets Kenya in retaliation for the Linda Nchi military operation, which saw the deployment of Kenyan troops to Somalia to drive out the militants in 2011.