Al-Shabaab fire mortar shells at newly liberated Somalia town

Members of the Al-Shabaab rebel group hold up their weapons in Mogadishu. GALLO IMAGES/REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR

HARARDHERE, Somalia - Al-Shabaab fired mortar shells at a newly liberated town in central Somalia Somalia, eyewitnesses reported, in yet an attempt to disrupt ongoing plans to install civilian administration after more than a decade of under militants' control. 

Witnesses said at least six mortar shells landed in Harardhere town on Wednesday night but no casualties were reported. The Somali Army has been patrolling the town in recent weeks after it was liberated from Al-Shabaab militants in January this year.

Federal government officials in the town confirmed that the mortars landed in civilian villages but did not comment on any potential casualties.

Whenever the group attacks the military, it either uses the Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs] and, or mortar shells according to security experts.

The attack comes barely a week after security forces led by the Somali National Army killed over 60 Al-Shabaab militants within the area. The militants engaged in a fierce gunfight with security forces at El-Qabobe village about 30 kilometers south of Harardhere town.

Early this year, the Somali National Army with the help of international partners among them the US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], and local militia, captured Harardhere town along with Gal'ad from the militants following fierce battles that lasted almost for a week.

Previously, Harardhere was the hub of pirates in Somalia, with the goons managing to hijack giant ships until 2011 when they were flushed away. It was later taken over by al-Shabab, which first rose up against the government in 2007 before pledging its allegiance to al-Qaeda.

The government of Somalia is set to activate the second phase of operations against the Al-Shabaab extortionists and has since requested backing from non-ATMIS troops from Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia.

The contingent will serve in the country for three months under the command of the Somali National Army, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud revealed.


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