Al-Shabaab plots to retake Somalia town after suffering heavy losses


DHUSAMAREB, Somalia - Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants have renewed efforts to retake the historical city of Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug, top officials said, following the most recent unsuccessful raid in the east of the city, which was met by resistance from government forces.

For the last couple of months, the Somali National Army [SNA], AU mission troops, and the US Africa Command have been fighting to dislodge the militants from Central and southern Somalia, which have for a long time been under the authoritarian rule of the Al-Qaida linked group.

In the process, the government has managed to reclaim several towns across Somalia, including the recent recapture of strategic Janaale town. The agricultural-rich town was one of Al-Shabaab main revenue source, and it's capture marked a major milestone for the security forces.

But at Dhusamareb, government officials said, the militants have been encroaching from different strategic points, further causing anxiety. The situation has been worsened by the presence of ASWJ militia, which is a moderate Sufi group that has since fallen out with government forces.

Early this year, the ASWJ group clashed with the Somali National Army in an incident which left over 20 civilians dead in Dhusamareb. The two sides reconciled albeit briefly and their relationship is described as "frosty" ever since the deadly encounter at Dhusamareb.

On Monday, SNA reported renewed clashes with Al-Shabaab in the outskirts of the town, further putting the security of the region at stake. At least 18 militants were killed on spot according to details given by security forces, but there was no immediate comment on casualties on the government side.

The clashes happened in the vicinity of Bula'le in the east of Dhusamareb. According to officials, the militants are keen to recapture the city which they lost a couple of years ago to the government troops, and which was also their source of revenue that sustains their unscrupulous activities across the country.

Dhusamareb was recently renamed Samaeeb by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo after three electoral conferences which were geared towards solving pre-election stalemate in Somalia. Recently, regional President Ahmed Abdi Kariye has lauded for engineering the conferences.

The Al-Shabaab militants are fighting to topple the fragile UN-backed Somalia government, but their efforts have been significantly degraded by SNA and their allies. However, reports indicate that the group can still wage small to large scale sporadic attacks across East Africa, despite their dwindling influence.

"These threats to the supply chain require immediate redress. Al-Shabaab IED attacks have claimed over 5,000 casualties and approximately 2,177 fatalities between 2017 and 2019. They have increased in lethality as more commercial precursors enter the group’s IED production pipeline, making every single attack more lethal and deadly," said Peter Kirechu, a security expert.

"Substantial changes to the current U.N. embargo framework on Somalia are therefore urgently needed to improve the monitoring of dangerous commercial chemical precursors, and enhance the international community’s ability to impose penalties (including sanctions and trade restrictions) on commercial importers who repeatedly fail to exercise due diligence procedures."

Recent reports also indicate that the group is struggling with internal squabbles that have sharply divided top leadership. Besides Dhusamareb and Janaale, security forces have also managed to secure strategic towns such as Kismayo, Dhobley, Afmadow, and many more across Somalia, which have been now taken back by civilians.


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