Al-Shabaab attacks another military base days after raiding UPDF in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Al-Shabaab militants have yet again launched a deadly attack against soldiers in Somalia just days after targeted peacekeepers stationed at Bulo Marer Forward Operating Base [FOB] in Lower Shabelle, where they killed dozens of Uganda People's Defense Forces [UPDF] troops.
Tuesday's attack was launched at Masagaway military camp manned by members of the Somali National Army [SNA] who were recently trained in Eritrea. But the attack, sources say, was met with resistance from prepared members of the national army who were quick to repulse the deadly attack.
The militants, sources said, managed to make their way to the camp, confiscating three vehicles in the process but the army regained stability and pushed them back. More reinforcements were sought from el-Dheer with deadly fighting ensuing for several hours in central Somalia.
Further sources say the soldiers managed to overpower the surging militants, inflicting several losses on them, with the government saying at least 30 militants were killed. But the Al-Shabaab, who is known for propagating propaganda, said at least 73 soldiers were killed.
Masagaway, about 270 km northeast of Mogadishu, was captured by government forces and local fighters in January of this year. In April, al-Shabab raided the town, killing three elders who have been involved in the local mobilization against the group.
Attacks on military bases are synonymous with Al-Shabaab militants who are seeking to topple the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia. Last week, the group managed to enter the UPDF base in Bulo Marer, killing several soldiers, but the number is yet to be confirmed by Somalia or the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS].
While ATMIS, Somalia, and Uganda admit that the militants overran the camp, they are tight-lipped over casualties which Al-Shabaab place at 137. Sources say there were at least 221 soldiers in the company with others confirming that some managed to escape to a nearby base manned by UPDF for safety.
Ugandan authorities have accused Al-Shabaab of exaggerating numbers, noting that "they are relaying rumors" for publicity. While accusing the soldiers of "panicking" and commanders of "recruiting relatives and cooks", President Yoweri Museveni threatened that the militants "will regret their actions".