Al-Shabaab militants have launched a forced recruitment campaign in Somalia's southwestern regions of Bay and Bakool, according to Somali officials.
The group, which controls large parts of both regions, is pressuring leaders of local villages to make sure the youth join its ranks, according to the governor of Bay region, Ali Wardhere Doyow.
He added that the group has been holding meetings for clan elders and told them to meet specific numbers of recruits from each clan.
Doyow said many families and their children have fled their villages to larger towns in the Bay region, including Baidoa, Dinsor and Bardale.
The group is targeting families that have sons and have informed the elders that if a family has two sons, they will draft one as a militant; if they have three, they will take two of them.
The recruitment drive appears to have picked up in recent weeks. Last month, authorities in the coastal town of Adalle reported that more than 100 children who fled a Shabab recruitment campaign in the Galmudug region had arrived there. Authorities in the town of Bardhere report the arrival of 10 families who fled with their children because of Al-Shabaab recruitment efforts in the Gedo region.
The clan elders in different parts of Somalia have vowed to resist Al-Shabaab recruitment of their young ones into the militant group.