Somalia’s government said on Wednesday that fighters of the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, whose leader was targeted in U.S. airstrikes Monday, will be given amnesty and a chance to “build their future” if they surrendered within the next 45 days, Al Jazeera reported.
The announcement, reportedly made by Somalia’s security minister Khalif Ahmed Ereg, came after the government of the conflict-ridden East African nation held a cabinet-level security meeting on Wednesday.
“We will create a better livelihood…for those who meet the deadline,” Ereg reportedly said. The militant group has so far not responded to the offer.
The offer of amnesty comes just days after U.S. airstrikes targeting al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane killed at least six militants. However, Godane’s fate remains unknown.
“The first news I got was that the emir was wounded, but I cannot say yet if he is dead or alive,” an al-Shabab spokesperson reportedly said. Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair, is al-Shabab's spiritual leader under whose direction the Somali militants forged an alliance with al-Qaeda.
Al-Shabab, which is believed to have thousands of fighters in its ranks, controls much of the countryside in southern Somalia and regularly launches attacks in the capital Mogadishu. It has, on several occasions, infiltrated the presidential palace in the capital, prompting government forces, backed by troops from the African Union, to launch a counteroffensive on the group’s strongholds in southern and central Somalia.
Al-Shabab has since resorted to tactics that include suicide bombings and assassinations of government officials. Godane also claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in a shopping mall in Nairobi last September, which killed nearly 70 people.