Shabaab targets soldiers in Puntland ambush

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, has claimed a massive improvised explosive device (IED) attack on Somali soldiers near Galgala in the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland. The blast left at least eight soldiers dead and many others wounded. Shabaab claimed credit for the ambush on its Radio al Andalus website.

Galgala has long been within Shabaab’s areas of operations. Since 2015, the region has also seen activity from Islamic State-loyal militants led by a former Shabaab commander, Abdulqadir Mumin. The wider Bari region has seen the town of Qandala taken over and a suicide assault on a popular hotel in Bosaso by the Islamic State. While military operations are underway against the Islamic State and Shabaab in the Bari region of Puntland, the Islamic State militants briefly seized another village last week before being forced to retreat.

Additionally, Shabaab claimed targeting the Baledogle Airfield in the Lower Shabelle region via its Shahada News Telegram channel. The statement reported that the jihadists fired 35 mortars at the base, which allegedly landed inside. The airfield is used as a base for the Somali military, African Union forces, and reportedly American troops. Shabaab was quick to include this information in its statement by saying it specifically targeted Americans inside the base.

However, no Somali officials, the African Union, or any US officials have commented on any attack or shelling on the base. Shabaab often claims targeting American military forces in Somalia, but these attacks often go without any comment from US officials. This will likely increase as the US military has been granted approval by President Donald Trump to target Shabaab with “additional precision fires.”

Caleb Weiss :Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.