MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — Somalia’s president has vowed to continue the war against al-Shabab militants in an address to lawmakers in which he also warned of looming famine in parts of the country.
Speaking at the opening of Somalia’s second session of parliament Tuesday, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to continue what he’s called an “all-out war” against terrorism.
Mohamud said Somalia enjoyed victories in the recent offensives against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. He also praised local militias for helping in the fight against the militants, who he called “khawarijs,” a term for someone who deviates from Islam.
“Our country and our people are in a time where going back and defeat are not an option,” Mohamud said. “We decided to commit in order to liberate the country from the khawarijs.”
Working with local militias, the Somali National Army has freed scores of villages in central Somalia from al-Shabab control in recent months.
The militants, meanwhile, have increased their attacks since Mohamud took office in May.
They include a rare July incursion into neighboring Ethiopia that authorities say left hundreds of militants dead and a twin car bombing in Mogadishu in October that killed 120 people.
Mohamud also spoke to lawmakers about Somalia’s struggle with a record drought that is threatening famine in parts of the country.
The Horn of Africa is entering a fifth consecutive failed rainy season that has killed millions of livestock across Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya and left millions of people in need of urgent aid.
Mohamud said the drought has devastated Somalia’s economy. The United Nations says nearly half of Somalia’s 15 million people are experiencing severe hunger.