MOGADISHU, Somalia – Special forces from Danab elite troops deterred the Al-Shabaab attack at any army base in the Gedo region on Thursday night, reports say, in yet another significant advance against the al-Qaeda-linked militants that have caused havoc in Somalia.
The unknown number of militants, armed with sophisticated weapons, attacked Burdhubo army bases recently established in Gedo, but their attempts were rejected to force them to flee to nearby bushes.
A fierce gun battle followed between the two sides with reports indicating that the militants intended to blast a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, but the attempts were prevented, in one of the rare raids targeting the elite forces.
General Abdihamid Mohamed said the militants became overpowered after a few hours of gunfire, adding that no accidents were reported during the intense conflict. No major destruction was also reported.
“It is another great success for our troops. They are determined to secure Somalia from these enemies of progress,” the field commander said. “We will do everything we can to completely disassemble them.”
This is the first time Al-Shabaab militants have targeted Danab troops in Gedo, a region of Kismaayo. The troops were recently stationed there among escalating divisions between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and regional leader Ahmed Madobe.
By the way, the attack came just over 48 hours after a similar attempt was reported in Bilis Qooqani, in Kismaayo. Over 20 Al-Shabaab militants targeted an army base belonging to Kismaayo forces, but a quick response from neighboring Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] saved the situation.
Colonel Zipporah Kioko, spokesman for the KDF, said that “Al-Shabaab lost control, had to retreat after our troops acted quickly to help the JSF.
Sectors II and VI of Kismaayo are manned by the KDF troops in AMISOM under the leadership of Brig. Paul Njema. Manning parts of Gedo are also the Ethiopian troops, whose presence in the region remains disputed given that a number of them are not employed by AMISOM.
But on Friday, the militants also claimed to have run over two KDF military bases in Hosingow and Kulbiyow in Lower Jubba, with some residents confirming that huge explosions were heard. However, AxadleTM could not independently verify the alleged attack.
If the KDF team confirms the raid, it will be the first successful raid by the militants against KDF troops in three years. The militants attacked the El-Adde and Kulbiyow army bases in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and inflicted massive casualties on the Kenyan forces.
It is important that the successes against the militants also come amid ongoing degradation against Al-Shabaab throughout the country, which has seen a number of them arrested, injured or killed by allied forces.
On Wednesday, General Ismael Abdimalik, the commander of the Danab forces, confirmed the death of the Al-Shabaab commander, who was positively identified as Hashim, during an operation in the Leego town of Lower Shebelle.
The dead commander, he noted, had coordinated the mafia-style taxation, where the local business community shares with Zakat, which aids illegal operations by militants across Somalia. He had run a custom office in the city at the time of the killing, he said.
“We happened upon a tax office in Al-Shabaab successfully and killed one of the most sought after terrorists in Somalia,” he said. “We are pleased that our mad troops were able to fetch him, and that is good news for our nation as we work hard to defeat these militants.”
It is not clear which foreign team helped the Somali national army [SNA] troops to carry out the sophisticated operation in an area controlled by Al-Shabaab. But the African Union forces usually help the Somali troops during ground combat.