Human Rights Watch has warned that the Somalia-based Takfiri terrorist group of al-Shabab is forcing civilians to hand over their young children for “indoctrination and military training.”
The international rights organization made the revelation in a statement on Monday, saying the terrorist group had launched an aggressive campaign to recruit children since mid-2017, with threats of retaliation against communities who refused to cooperate.
Since late September 2017, the al-Qaeda-linked militant group has ordered elders, teachers in religious schools, and communities in rural areas to provide hundreds of children as young as 8 or face attack, according to the statement.
The recruitment was reportedly taking place in three districts in Somalia’s southern Bay region, which is largely under the control of the terrorist outfit.
The New York-based rights organization also revealed that the terrorist group had opened large religious schools in Bay region since 2015, bringing in young children and pressuring teachers to teach the al-Shabab curriculum and avoid "foreign teachings.”
HRW quoted village elders near Baidoa in southwestern Somalia as saying that al-Shabab militants had ordered them in September to hand over dozens of children between the ages of nine and 15.