Mogadishu - Somali security forces say they have detained over 500 people in a two-day operation in the Mogadishu area who are either Islamist rebel fighters or have links to them.
"The crackdown on remnants of Al-Qaeda affiliated militants was carried out in several districts on Friday and on Saturday," said Kalif Ahmed Ereg, one of the Somali commanders who took part in the operation.
"We have arrested around 8 000 suspects and after investigations, 507 of them have so far been confirmed to be Shebab fighters or to have links to the Shebab," Ereg said.
The operation, conducted by Somali forces and their African Union allies, centred on Mogadishu and the nearby town of Afgoye, long a stronghold of the al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab rebels, until pro-government forces regained control of it in May.
Officials said nearly 3 000 security personnel took part in the operation.
Witnesses accused Somali forces of making indiscriminate arrests.
"They stormed houses, raided businesses and rounded people up on the street," one said.