Somali Troops Thwart Attacks by Al Shabab Militants

Somalia —

Officials in Somalia say they managed to “fend off” an Al Shabab attack on a military base in the south of the country.

Jubaland State vice president, Mohamud Sayid Aden, told VOA Al Shabab armed militias using explosives attacked Janaa Cabdalle, which is about 60 kilometers west of Kismayo.

“This morning the Khawarij – the dissidents – attacked the Janaa Cabdalle military base, a strategic base that we previously captured from Al Shabab,” he said using the term “khawarij” for Al Shabab militants. He added, “As is characteristic of their attacks, Al Shabab uses a number of explosives and suicide bombers. But the Somali troops managed to defend the base,” he said.

He said the attack “failed” because government forces fought it out. According to him, the barrier the army had built in anticipation of such an attack prevented a bomb from exploding at the base.

Five soldiers were killed and more than 10 were injured. “Brave soldiers are among the dead, and as stated in the fatwas of religious leaders, they will enter paradise,” he said.

Aden said the death toll on the Al Shabab side was also high.

Al Shabab, on the other hand, claimed its fighters “gained control” of the military base and killed 89 soldiers. This number has not been independently confirmed.

The group’s military spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Mus’ab told Al Shabab that it also managed to seize 20 vehicles from the government forces. He added that the group also ambushed government aid troops sent from the Yontoy and Bar Sanguni military bases, east of Janaa Cabdalle.

Aden denied the claim. “That is baseless,” he said.

Somali government forces backed by local fighters have driven Al Shabab from most of the states of Hirshabelle and Galmudug, in an operation that began last August.

Somali National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh-Ali last week told VOA authorities were preparing to launch a second phase of military operations that would involve additional troops from three countries bordering Somalia, namely from Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The Somali government has been fighting Al Shabab for more than 15 years. Al Shabab wants to overthrow the Somali government and implement strict Islamic law. [em/jm]

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