The Somali National Army moved into a stronghold of the terrorist group al-Shabaab in a large operation that killed two of the group’s fighters and resulted in the capture of dozens more, army officials said. One Somali soldier was killed in the fighting.
According to the Somali National Army (SNA) commander of the 60th Division, General Mohamed Sheikh, the operation took place on Monday in Awdinle, about 20 miles west of Baidoa, the administrative capital of Somalia’s southwest.
Sheikh said that the Somali soldiers reacted to intelligence tips and moved into the Bay region which has long been a stronghold for the terrorist group.
“Our troops acted on intelligence and we managed to kill two al-Shabaab militants within the Bay Region. This was a successful operation given that we were also able to capture dozens who are now in our custody,” he said. “We thank our partners for their support.”
“We have a clear transition policy. We are fighting an ideological war so killing is not enough. We are going to counsel them and successfully have them repatriated [sic] to society as we continue to pursue those that escaped,” he added.
The Somali military, with the assistance of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and AMISOM (African Union Mission In Somalia), has been for the past few months increasingly active in areas that have been al-Shabaab strongholds. The Somali army recently seized the town of Janaale located on the Lower Shabelle. The UN proclaimed the seizure as “a victory for the Somali people.”
While al-Shabaab may be losing territory, it continues to target the country with terror attacks:
Mohamed Mohamud Siyad, a Somali lawmaker was abducted and killed by al-Shabab militants near the town of Bal’ad, about 20 miles north of Mogadishu on Sunday. He was traveling in a vehicle to the capital Mogadishu when he was abducted and killed according to security officials. Siyad’s vehicle was stopped near the village of Gololey, north of Bal’ad. Al-Shabaab militants forced the vehicle off the road and then killed the lawmaker shortly afterward.
Just two days earlier in Baidoa, a remote-controlled IED landmine, believed to be placed by al-Shabaab detonated at a government tax collection point in the southern part of the town.
“Four civilians and a government soldier have died in the blast and eight others were wounded,” Baidoa District Commissioner, Hassan Mo’alim Bikole, said. “The wounded are being treated at hospitals.”
And in Mogadishu, a suicide bomber driving a truck blew himself up in front of the government revenue headquarters, injuring seven people, including security personnel who prevented the bomber from reaching the building.
“The security forces tried to stop the vehicle as it sped towards the government building. The police officers guarding the place prevented it from reaching its target and the driver rammed the vehicle into a nearby perimeter wall before he blew himself up,” said Sidiqi Dodishe, a police spokesman. He added that five police officers were injured in the explosion.
One senior al-Shabaab official recently surrendered to Somali authorities after renouncing terrorism after a decade of fighting. Mohamed Abukar Mohamed Dhagole who went by the nom de guerre of “Ato” surrendered to the SNA in the Lower Shabelle region. Ato was in charge of the terror group’s finances. Al-Shabaab relies on fundraising to finance its operations.
“This is a war we can win together,” General Sheikh said as he noted that al-Shabaab “is losing [its] traditional strongholds due to the spirited effort from our military forces. We shall overcome soon. We all need a safe and secure Somalia for all of us.”