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Boko Haram Fighters Are Traveling to Somalia for Training, President Says

Fighters for the Nigerian-based Islamist militant group are heading to the East African country to train alongside al Shabaab before returning home to West Africa to fight, according to Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

by VICE News and Reuters
Feb 15 2016, 4:18pm

Photo by Jerome Delay/AP

Boko Haram militants are allegedly traveling across the continent to Somalia for training before they head back home to West Africa to fight, according to Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

After decades of conflict and instability in the East African country, the leader argued that a stable Somalia would not only have implications regionally, but across Africa.

Mohamud made the Boko Haram comments at a security conference in Germany on Sunday while discussing minor progress the country has made recently towards creating a functioning political system.

"Without a stable Somalia, the whole region of the Horn of Africa will remain unstable and by and large, the African continent. There are proofs and evidence that (for) some time Boko Haram has been trained in Somalia and they went back to Nigeria," he said.

"The terrorists are so linked together, they are associated and so organized, (that) we the world we need to be so organized," he said, speaking in English.

Related: Millions Face Food Shortages as El Niño Fuels Africa's Worst Drought in Decades

It was not clear whether or not he believes the Nigerian Islamist group was still receiving training from the Somali al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab. Last year, Boko Haram switched its allegiance to Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. While some factions of al Shabaab have claimed ties to IS, the group's leadership has rejected these efforts.

Somalia's al Shabaab, which sprouted up in the country a decade ago with the aim of overthrowing the Somali government and imposing a harsh version of Islamic law, claimed responsibility for a blast this month that punched a hole in the fuselage of a plane. Earlier this year, the militants waged a violent attack at a beach in the capital city Mogadishu that left nearly 20 people dead.

In an attack on Monday, al Shabaab killed Somalia's former defense minister with a car bomb in the capital Mogadishu on Monday, officials said.

Al Shabaab told Reuters it planted the car bomb that killed Muhayadin Mohamed, who was also an adviser to the speaker of Somalia's parliament. Images from the scene show the passenger seat took the brunt of the damage, with the passenger-side doors blown out.

"We are behind his killing," said Sheikh Anbdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman.

A police official confirmed Mohamed was killed. The official said a second person in the car survived the blast without any serious injuries.

Mohamed served briefly as the defense minister in 2008 during Somalia's transitional federal government, which was backed by United Nations. Government troops fought alongside African Union peacekeepers to push al Shabaab out of Mogadishu and other major cities.

Al Shabaab fighters left the capital in 2011 and a permanent Somali government was established in 2012, but the government has struggled to end chronic insecurity. The militants have frequently targeted government officials and lawmakers and vowed to attack Western targets at home and abroad.

Related: There Are More Displaced People in the World Than Ever Before

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training
Islamic State
East Africa
Somalia
al qaeda
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NIGERIA
Boko Haram
Mogadishu
Al Shabaab
hassan sheikh mohamud