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Al-Shabab extremists deny contact with Somalia’s government

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The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group has denied having contact with the Somali government after the country’s deputy defense minister claimed that the extremists had for the first time asked to negotiate.

An unnamed al-Shabab official with the group’s media unit told a pro-al-Shabab website in comments published Sunday that “there is no talk between us.”

On Saturday, Deputy Defense Minister Abdifatah Kasim told journalists in Mogadishu that “al-Shabab requested to open negotiations with the Somali government, but there are two groups within al-Shabab.” 

He said Somali members of al-Shabab “have a chance to open up negotiations, but those foreigners who invaded our country have no right for talks. The only option is to return to where they are from.”

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Kasim added that “for the Somalis, we are ready to receive them, for they are willing to surrender to the Somali government. 

They must follow the government’s instructions,…

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