Several young men who left Sweden to join the radical Islamic militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia have been killed in battle, according to Sweden’s security service Säpo.
Säpo estimates that about 20 people have left Sweden to train and fight with al-Shabaab, a militant group with alleged ties to al-Qaeda.
So far, a handful of people with Swedish passports have also been killed in the fighting, Säpo reports.
“For the time being, it is believed there are ten or so Swedes on the ground in Somalia. They are either taking part in the violence or in training camps, but there may be more as of yet unknown cases. What worries us is that it’s ongoing and growing,” said Säpo counterterrorism analyst Malena Rembe to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.
The recruits aren’t only Swedes with Somali backgrounds, but are also individuals of mixed ethnicity, according to Rembe.
Some of them are leaving Sweden without telling their relatives what they are planning to do.
“These are people who are going down on their own initiative. They see themselves as a part of a global struggle and want to contribute,” said Rembe.
Somalia has been at war since 1991 when the country’s government collapsed. Recently, al-Shabaab militants have made advances toward the Somali capital of Mogadishu.