Hundreds of Somali women are recruited and trained in the southern port city of Kismayo by the al-Shabaab, a Somali insurgent faction embracing a radical form of Islam similar to the harsh, conservative brand practiced by Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, Radio Garowe Reports.

Garowe Online received reports that indicate the trainers which were approximately 150 soldiers were matching in the street of Kismayo with AK47 on Saturday.

“The recruiters were teenagers who need to be trained more, so that they participate fighting against our enemies [AMISOM] because every Muslim is must join the jihad [holy war],” said Al-Shabaab leader in Kismayo, Sheikh Hassan Yaqub.

Al-Shabbab has increased its territorial control to much of central and southern Somalia and is stepping up recruitment of foreign jihadists.

The UN reported that the extremist Islamist group generally doesn’t recruit girls for combat roles, but does use them to carry out tasks like cooking, cleaning, transporting detonators, and collecting intelligence. The report identified an al-Shabaab training camp near the southern city of Kismayo, where about 120 girls learned intelligence-gathering techniques and how to transport explosives and drive. Some of the girls were also recruited to marry the male fighters.

The Horn of Africa nation is turning out to be an al-Qaeda safe haven, with terrorist-linked groups like al-Shabaab controlling large swaths of southern and central regions and waging deadly insurgency against the UN-backed Somali government. Along with other insurgent groups such as Hisbul Islam, al-Shabaab has trapped the country’s UN- and U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government into a small part of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

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