June 13, 2020 / 9:00 AM / 25 days ago

Somalia's Islamist group al Shabaab says sets up COVID-19 treatment centre

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia’s Islamist group al Shabaab said on Friday they had set up a COVID-19 treatment centre in the country, and said the disease posed a grave threat, citing international health authorities.

“Al Shabaab’s corona(virus) prevention and treatment committee has opened a COVID-19 centre,” the group said in a broadcast on their radio Andalus, adding the centre had been set up in Jilib, about 380 kilometres (236 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu.

“International health organisations said COVID-19 is terribly spreading in countries of Africa continent.”

For more than a decade the group has been fighting to topple the Horn of Africa’s Western-backed central government and establish its own government based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

It frequently carries out bombings and gun assaults in Somalia against both military and civilian targets including hotels, intersections and checkpoints.

In the broadcast a man who identified himself as Sheikh Mohamed Bali thanked al Shabaab for setting up the centre and asked those with symptoms to report to the centre.

“We thank the administration who established the centre, we ask the people not to hide (the) disease to avoid spreading of the virus, people should report to the centre,” he said.

Another person in the broadcast who did not identify himself said the centre is ready with vehicles to transport suspected coronavirus patients who call in seeking for care.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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