Terrorist insurgents from al-Shabaab attacked two military bases belonging to the Somali National Army (SNA) early on Saturday morning. The attacks occurred at about 4 a.m.
The bases, located 45 miles southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the towns of Bariire and Awdhigle in the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia, were struck by two explosions, witnesses said. A third explosion targeted a convoy of troops rushing to the bases from the capital to respond to the attacks. That explosion occurred in the village of Lafole, located about 13 miles from Mogadishu.
The two forward operating bases are strategically located to protect several bridges along the Shabelle river.
Somali officials say that the bridges are important in preventing vehicles carrying explosives from entering Mogadishu.
“The assailants tried to attack but thanks to our brave soldiers who knew about the tricks of the assailants, the militants were defeated and their wounded and dead bodies are strewn around, we will provide you the details later,” Army chief General Odowa Yusuf Rage said to the media.
Yusuf rage posted on Twitter that “Somali Army killed dozens of terrorist militants including leaders after Shabab attacked SNA bases in Awdhegle and Bariire in Lower Shabelle region.”
Hussein Nur, a military spokesman, told reporters that the Somalis lost several troops in the fighting, but sent reinforcements to bolster the bases. He didn’t specify either side’s casualties.
The army is now in control of both bases and the surrounding areas, Nur said, adding, “We are pursuing the militants in the surrounding jungle.”
General Mohamed Tahlil Bihi, an infantry commander of the Somali military, told the Associated Press that “we lost nine of our soldiers and 11 others got wounded from our side.”
“From the Shabaab, we killed 60 of their militias on one spot and 17 others near the other base,” the general said.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, a military spokesman for the al-Shabaab terrorist group, said that the two simultaneous attacks on the bases began with vehicle-borne suicide bombs.
“We overran Bariire base, burnt three military vehicles, and took two vehicles,” he said, adding that they detonated another vehicle-borne IED that targeted Somali troops who were rushing from Mogadishu to reinforce the bases.
The Somali military had pushed al-Shabaab, which is aligned with al-Qaeda, out of Mogadishu in 2011. Nevertheless, the group still controls large rural areas of the country while conducting terrorist attacks and bombings in the capital.
The village of Bariire was recaptured from al-Shabab two years ago, followed by the re-taking of Awdhegle three months later in August 2019. The recapture of these two towns was an important benchmark for the Somali National Army’s efforts to “seize and hold” areas recovered from al-Shabaab.