Shabaab again assaults base where US soldier died

Almost two months after a US Special Forces soldier was killed in a Shabaab assault in southern Somalia, the very same base has again been targeted by the al Qaeda branch.

Earlier this morning, two suicide truck bombs detonated near the base perimeter just outside of the town of Bar-Sanguuni near the port city of Kismayo. A fierce firefight then ensued following the explosion, as the militants attempted to enter the base. However, local sources report that the attackers were repelled. Other sources have also said that the truck bombs were stopped before getting near the base. Via its Shahada News Agency, Shabaab did confirm the use of two suicide truck bombs.

Somali officials have stated that nearly 100 militants were involved in the raid and that 87 of them were killed. Shabaab further claimed that 30 soldiers were killed in the assault. While both sides appear to be inflating numbers, more independent sources have placed the number of fatalities at 12. This number reportedly includes four Somali soldiers and eight Shabaab militants.

The joint Somali-Kenyan-US base in Bar-Sanguuni is the same base in which a US Special Forces soldier was killed in early June. The base was targeted by Shabaab after joint US-Somali special forces raids hit various jihadist targets near Kismayo the previous night. AFRICOM also said that “a large force consisting of approximately 800 forces from the SNSF and KDF were conducting a multi-day operation approximately 350 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu when the attack occurred.” The soldier was the first US soldier to be killed in Somalia since last year.

The base was again the target of another Shabaab raid just a day after the initial assault. That attack also saw the utilization of a suicide truck bomb to strike the base. Somali sources reported that a subsequent assault team was neutralized following the detonation of the truck bomb, which was stopped at a checkpoint outside the base by security forces.

Shabaab has remained a persistent threat to the Somali government and neighboring countries despite efforts by both the African Union and the US to defeat it over the past decade. Over the past several years, the group has launched attacks that have killed hundreds of African Union forces from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Ethiopia. These Shabaab assaults have forced African Union troops to withdraw from several cities and towns in southern Somalia.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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