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Swedish recruits joining Somali group?

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, May 29 (UPI) -- Young men from Sweden who joined a militant Muslim group in Somalia have died in fighting there, the Swedish national security agency says.

Sapo said it believes about 20 Swedish passport holders have joined al-Shabaab, a Somali group reported to have ties with al-Qaida. The agency said some have been killed although it was unsure of exact numbers, the news agency TT reported.

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Malena Rembe, a Sapo counter-terrorism expert, told Svenska Dagbladet some of the recruits are from Somali immigrant families but others have mixed ethnic descent.

"For the time being, it is believed there are 10 or so Swedes on the ground in Somalia," Rembe said. "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."

Somalia has had no central government since 1991.

Rembe said some of the Swedish recruits appear to be heading to Somalia without discussing their plans with their families.

"These are people who are going down on their own initiative," she added. "They see themselves as a part of a global struggle and want to contribute."

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