Somalia has promised to find civilian jobs and training for rebels from the radical Islamist group Al Shabaab if they abandon their part in a six year old insurgency.
The new deal comes after around 250 fighters from the Al-Qaeda linked group surrendered to pro-government forces over the weekend.
Interior minister Abdisamed Mohamed Hassan appealed to the estimated 6,000 militants occupying areas in the south of the country to give themselves up.
“If the Shabaab come back, we’ll not just send them to the streets. We will divide them into few groups. If they come voluntarily, they’re going to be part of the factories and we will take care of them. We try to improve their skills and we will try to protect them. If they come as fighters, then we pass to the Justice Department and they will go to jail,” he said.
In another significant blow to the rebels, a closely aligned insurgent group Hezbul Islam has announced an end to its alliance with Al Shabaab. Leaders cited ideological differences.
Al Shabaab has been fighting the Somali government since 2006. The militants were forced out of the capital Mogadishu last year but still carry out suicide attacks and attempted to assassinate the country’s new President earlier this month, two days after he was elected.