Shabaab’s flag flies in the AMISOM base
Last week, a large Shabaab attack on an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base near the Somali capital of Mogadishu left at least a dozen Ugandan troops dead. The Ugandan military confirmed twelve of its troops were killed, however, there are conflicting reports on the actual number of casualties.
According to a statement released by Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia, one of its fighters rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the perimeter of the base in Janale. A team of heavily armed fighters then entered the breach and attacked the troops inside. While the jihadists were assaulting the base, another team destroyed a nearby bridge to cut off any reinforcements, a Somali military officer told Reuters on Sept. 1. The same statement said that 50 AMISOM troops were killed in the assault. [See LWJ report, 12 Ugandan troops killed as Shabaab assaults base in Somalia.]
The pictures released by Shabaab today corroborate most of the claims in the statement. A suicide bomber is shown detonating near the base before jihadists move into the base. The group claimed that the suicide bombing killed 40 soldiers in the blast. However, only 12 bodies of Ugandan troops are shown in the released images, backing up the official Ugandan claim. Additionally, a large amount of weapons and ammunition is also shown to have been captured by Shabaab.
The attack was undertaken by Shabaab’s Sheikh Abu Zubayr Battalion, which is named after the Shabaab leader who was killed by a US drone strike last year. In June, the jihadist group said the battalion killed more than 60 Ethiopian troops. Shabaab released photographs which appeared to back up that claim.
In late June, the battalion assaulted an African Union base in the southern Somalian town of Leego and reportedly killed more than 50 Burundian troops stationed there. Unconfirmed reports indicated that 15 suicide bombers were used in the attack, and some Burundian troops were beheaded.
Shabaab continues to remain a persistent threat despite being pushed out of its major urban strongholds of Mogadishu, Kismayo, and other large cities and towns in southern and central Somalia. It still controls large rural areas in southern Somalia, and uses these safe havens to launch large-scale assaults in the country, even with a major African Union mission present. Shabaab has also increasingly been able to mount attacks across the border into neighboring Kenya.
The jihadist group has also been able to retake strategic towns in recent days after AMISOM troops withdrew. Shabaab said it took over Buqda in the Hiran region, as well as the town of Kurtunwarey in the Lower Shabelle. Radio Andalus, a Shabaab radio station and website, has reported today that the town of Muuro Gaabay, which sits close to the capital of the Bakool region, has been captured by the jihadist group.
Photos from the Janale attack:
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