GENEVA (Reuters) – Somalia's prime minister appealed on Tuesday for international support to combat al Shabaab militants but said a military solution to their insurgency alone was not enough.
Addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Abdi Farah Shirdon denounced what he called the "cowardly attack" by al Shabaab militants on a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and said those responsible must be held accountable.
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He praised the 17,000-strong African peacekeeping force deployed in Somalia for improving security and fighting al Shabaab, who he said were now weakened.
But Somalia, emerging from two decades of civil war, still faced many challenges, he said.
"We still have a difficult journey ahead of us. A military solution alone is not enough, promotion of rule of law, greater regional cooperation and economic stability and provision of public services are all key factors that complement the military effort," Shirdon said in his speech.
A government priority was to cut youth unemployment.
"This provided al Shabaab a building ground to recruit and spread their destructive ideology. It is therefore essential to create educational and economic opportunities for youth," he said.
Al Shabaab said on Tuesday its fighters were still holed up in the mall they attacked at the weekend. The known death toll stands at 62.