More than 200 suspects arrested in security sweep to stop militant attacks in Somali capital


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MOGADISHU, Somalia — More than 200 suspects were arrested Tuesday in a security sweep aimed at stemming a wave of militant attacks in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, said a senior police official.

Soldiers manned checkpoints in Mogadishu's northern outskirts, where most of the streets were empty amid the ongoing operation.

Security forces raided the homes and shops of suspects and arrested many people, mostly young men, according to Col. Ahmed Ali, a senior police official in Mogadishu who said the sweep was a joint operation by government forces and African Union troops.

"The operation will continue until we stop terrorist attacks," he said.

Although the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab was ousted from its bases in Mogadishu in 2011, militants continue to stage lethal attacks across the seaside city.

Last week militants assaulted and entered Villa Somalia, the heavily guarded compound that houses the presidential palace. Following a gunfight in which at least three militants were killed, government troops and presidential guards were able to regain full control of the compound that is considered to be one of the safest places in Mogadishu because of the tight security presence.

Al-Shabab militants have previously carried out deadly attacks against lawmakers and U.N. staff. Last year the group attacked an upscale mall in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, which has sent troops to fight the militants under the African Union banner.

Al-Shabab, which has links with al-Qaida, vowed to step up attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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