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Mohamed said he doesn’t know how to use a gun but thinks it would be good to learn for self-protection.

Somalia has been in conflict since the 1991, when long-term dictator Siad Barre was overthrown by warlords who then turned on each other.

Al-Shabab has had a grip on much of south-central Somalia for the past several years, but now faces hostile militaries on three sides. Al-Shabab was pushed out of the capital last year.

Mr. Khan said the violence has deprived children of their childhood. Because of the conflict, many are also at risk of disease and malnutrition, among other safety risks, because of the lack of an effective central government.

Somalia has one of the worst child mortality rates in the world. One out of every six children die before their fifth birthday, he said.