Shabaab claims it killed 173 Burundian troops in a large-scale assault on a military base in southern Somalia. Neither the African Union nor Burundi has commented on Shabaab’s casualty numbers.
Shabaab has claimed a number of attacks in recent days across southern Somalia, including briefly recapturing the strategic town of Balad just north of Mogadishu.
In a newly released video, Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mahmoud Rage addresses graduates of a training camp for foreign fighters. “Many” of the graduates are from Kenya and, Rage says, they should form an “army that will conquer Kenya so that we may return to our families and relatives in a state of honor and glory.”
No date was given for the ambush, but it was likely recent as the jihadist group has promised to step up attacks during the holy month of Ramadan.
The images released by Shabaab buttress its claims of a high death toll.
More than 50 troops from Burundi are reported to have been killed. The attack comes just one week after Shabaab killed at least 60 Ethiopian troops in another attack in southern Somalia.
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Shabaab continues to be able to penetrate high-security areas in the Somali capital. At least four Somalis were killed in the attack.
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Shabaab’s “Press Office War Statistics Office” said it would provide more information on slain Burundian soldiers if requested.
Last month, the African Union dismissed Shabaab’s videotape from Mogadishu as “faked” propaganda.
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Unconfirmed reports claim that Ahmad Godane Abu Zubayr, Shabaab’s spiritual leader and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a top commander, were killed in a massive blast in Afgoye.
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Warning: The image shown is graphic. Shabaab displays the bodies of scores of men it claimed are African Union troops. The AU dismissed the claim as propaganda.
A large number of observers believe that the US just provided Uganda and Burundi with offensive drone capabilities. It hasn’t.
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Last week’s Shabaab bombing attacks in Uganda were designed to undermine that country’s support for the African Union Mission in Somalia. Ugandan support or not, AMISOM is underfunded and there are significant questions about whether peacekeeping is suitable for Somalia.