Terrorist attack strikes military base in Somalia amid AU troop drawdown

Terrorists from the Al-Shabaab group has launched an attack on a military base in Somalia on Wednesday, coinciding with the announcement by the African Union (AU) that it was commencing the reduction of troops in the conflict-ridden country.

The base, located in the southern city of Baardhere and housing Ethiopian and Somali forces, was targeted by near-simultaneous suicide bomb blasts, leading to intense gunfire, according to local authorities and witnesses.

Details regarding casualties from the attack are yet to be confirmed. Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate known for its violent insurgency against the fragile Somali government for over 15 years, claimed responsibility for the assault. The initial explosion, believed to be caused by a suicide bomber, occurred at the entrance of the ADC military base where Ethiopian forces train Somali troops, stated Abdi Bare, a local police officer. Another blast followed shortly after in the same vicinity. While casualties were reported, specific information remains undisclosed. The situation in the area has returned to normal, as reported by local resident Bare Hassan, who witnessed heavy gunfire subsequent to the initial blast.

Al-Shabaab persists in carrying out deadly attacks in Somalia despite an extensive offensive by pro-government forces supported by the AU’s African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). This offensive aims to counter the terrorist group’s activities. Less than a month ago, an AU base located southwest of Mogadishu was stormed by Al-Shabaab fighters, resulting in the deaths of 54 Ugandan peacekeepers. The attack marked one of the deadliest incidents since the commencement of the offensive in the previous year. Additionally, in a separate incident earlier this month, a beachside hotel in Mogadishu was subjected to a six-hour siege, claiming the lives of six civilians.

On the same day as the attack, the African Union Transition Mission announced the initiation of troop reductions in Somalia, complying with UN resolutions that mandate a withdrawal of 2,000 soldiers by the end of June 2023. The mission handed over control of a base operated by Burundian forces in the south-central Somali state of Hirshabelle to the Somali National Army. The aim is for Somalia’s army and police to assume full security responsibilities by the conclusion of 2024, marking 17 years since the creation of the AU force by the United Nations Security Council to combat Al-Shabaab. A UN Security Council meeting concerning Somalia is scheduled for the following day.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) replaced the previous mission known as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in April of the previous year. AMISOM consisted of approximately 20,000 troops contributed by several nations, including Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Kenya, due to its involvement in Somalia, has been the target of numerous retaliatory attacks, and the remote northeastern regions of the country near the border have witnessed several deadly bombings.

In the most recent incident, suspected to be the work of Al-Shabaab, two police officers and a civilian were killed when their vehicle detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in Mandera County on Tuesday, according to local officials.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who assumed office in May of the previous year, has pledged to wage an all-out war against the jihadists. Al-Shabaab was expelled from Mogadishu in 2011 but continues to maintain a stronghold in various areas of south and central Somalia.

While President Mohamud is currently on a trip to the United States, he dismissed the head of the army, Odowaa Yusuf Rageh, earlier this week and appointed Ibrahim Sheikh Muhidin as his successor.

Somalia, a nation located in the Horn of Africa with a population

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