In this Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 file photo, Al-Shabab fighters march with their weapons during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor, File)
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Somalia's militant group al-Shabab Thursday denied that it was threatening and abducting civilians to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training.Al-Shabab has been fighting for years to topple Somalia's central government and rule the Horn of Africa country according to its own interpretation of Islamic law. Human Rights Watch said Monday that the armed group began ordering elders and teachers in rural parts of the southern Bay region in mid-2017 to provide them with children -- as young as eight -- or face reprisals.HRW says the armed group has recruited thousands of children for indoctrination and to become frontline fighters over the past decade, and its religious schools -- which began in 2015 -- are pressured to teach al-Shabab's curriculum.
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