Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud said his government is seeking a political solution in addition to military action to end an al-Qaeda-linked insurgency that has gripped his nation for nearly a decade.

“One thing is for sure, we do not intend to end the phenomenon of al-Shabaab with the barrel of the gun only, there is always reconciliation,” Mohamoud told a conference in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. “We already have results. A very good number of mid-level commanders have reconciled with the government and come back into the mainstream.”

While the Islamist militants have now been pushed back into parts of southern Somalia, they still manage to launch deadly attacks on government and civilian targets even in the capital, Mogadishu. In September, the group said it overran an African Union peacekeeping base in the southern town of Janaale and killed 80 troops.

The mission, known as Amison, has supported Somalia’s Western-backed government since 2007. It has more than 22,000 security personnel from 10 nations including neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

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