The Somali government says it has shut down the financial infrastructure that supports Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
Speaking Wednesday to a gathering of Somali diaspora members in Cairo, Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said his government has closed every known account connected with the militants.
“The government has closed down about 250 militant-connected accounts in four banks and also shut down the network and the data services of about 70 mobile phones the militants were using to transfer money,” Hamza said.
“This was a major victory and was only possible because of the tips of the Somali citizens and we are in the process of investigating the amount of the frozen money in the closed accounts,” said the prime minister.
Hamza said Somali security forces have also arrested individuals carrying money to al-Shabab financial offices.
Al-Shabab has funded itself for years by extorting businesses in Mogadishu and collecting taxes in the areas under its control.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared a “total war” against the al-Qaida-linked militants shortly after being elected last year.
Working with local clan fighters, the government has claimed multiple military victories against al-Shabab in the past six months, retaking towns and villages in Hirshabelle state that the militants had controlled for years.
Hamza said Tuesday that about 2,000 al-Shabab fighters have been killed in military operations conducted by the Somali army, supported by what he called international partners.
VOA could not independently verify the government’s claimed death toll.
Al-Shabab, meanwhile, has continued its attacks since Mohamud was elected president.
On Saturday, it carried out two attacks on government forces in Somalia’s central region of Hiran in two days, killing more than 43 people, including senior military officers.
An October twin car bombing in Mogadishu killed at least 120 people.