Al-Shabaab militants killed in raid as explosion hits military vehicle in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two Al-Shabaab militants were on Wednesday killed after an operation carried out by regional Southwest forces, officials said, in the latest crackdown against the Somalia-based terrorists, who have caused havoc and mayhem in East Africa.
In a statement on Facebook, the ministry of interior said the regional forces engaged in a fierce gunfight against the militants in a clash that also left several injured on the outskirts of Dinsor town, which is frequented by the militants.
The operation was carried out in Xariima village, where the militants had gone rampant against residents in their usual antics of intimidations and harassment, while forcefully collecting taxes from the innocent civilians, the ministry added.
"Our regional forces based in Dinsor managed to kill two Al-Shabaab operatives who had been harassing innocent civilians within Xariima village. The militants were overpowered during the fierce gunfight," read the statement, perhaps the only known success by the regional forces.
The statement continued: "Several militants were injured during the gunfight that lasted for few hours. Our forces remain committed to ensuring that terrorists are defeated for the sake of safety and stability of the people of Somalia."
Bodies of the victims were displayed for public viewing, leading to congestion as residents scrambled to have a glimpse of the fallen Al-Shabaab men. Their identity was not immediately revealed but they are said to have been operating within the region.
Somali National Army [SNA], AU forces, and regional security forces have been working closely in the fight against terrorists across Somalia, cooperation which United Nations special envoy to Somalia James Swan said that "has yielded" intended purpose.
The Southwest regional forces have been facing an onslaught from the Al-Shabaab militants, who control several parts of Lower Shebelle, a region that has traditionally played home to them. The region is currently under designation as terror hotbed by a multi-agency team from the security forces.
On Tuesday, a suspected Al-Shabaab roadside explosion hit a military vehicle in the vicinity of Gololey town north of Bal'ad, leaving several people dead and others injured. The Somali National Army [SNA] vehicle is said to have been carrying soldiers who were executing a patrol mission in the area.
No team is yet to take responsibility for the explosion but Al-Shabaab has previously targeted government and African Union forces in the same region with Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs], officials said.
The total number of those who died and the injuries are yet to be established but sources intimated that a number of soldiers died in the incident. The Al-Shabaab has been lately avoiding ground combat against the government troops.
Since March, government forces have been targeting Al-Shabaab militants in sophisticated operations and the remote villages of central and southern Somalia have been a major target due to the fact that training and recruitment of fighters are said to be taking place within the regions.
Some of the milestones in the fight against the militants are the liberation of Janaale town, which had been used as a tax extortion center for the militants in the Lower Shebelle region. The March operation, AU Mission envoy Francisco Madeira said, was a "major" achievement in the battle against the extremists.
Al-Shabaab militants have been fighting for almost a decade in a bid to overthrow the fragile UN-backed Somalia government, but the group has considerably lost its former strongholds to government forces due to endless airstrikes waged by the US Africa Command.