Al-Shabab militants in Somalia continue to recruit children, and the total number of child soldiers is estimated at 5,000, says UNICEF. Somali leaders are asked to prioritize children's rights, says UNICEF's Susannah Price.
Al-Shabab militants attacked Kenya's Garissa University College campus Thursday, about 120 miles from the Somali border. At least 147 people were killed in the attack and 79 wounded, with Christian students reportedly targeted.
Kenyan troops began an assault against members of Somali's al-Shabab organization who continued to hold hostages at a Nairobi shopping mall. The siege began Saturday when Islamist group attacked the mall, calling it retaliation for Kenya's actions in Somalia.
The first months of next year are critical to Somalia, observers say, as Somalis are looking for tangible proof that the installed government is better than al-Shabab militants routed from much of the country by African Union forces. Conditions are expected to continue deteriorating in Mali.
Al-Shabab and other militant Islamists in Somalia have provoked new fears among Somalis that Islamic-party rule never prompted. The al-Shabab-controlled authorities in a region where a 13-year-old girl was stoned for adultery are considered unaccountable by locals, who otherwise support a strict interpretation of Sharia law.