Al-Shabaab raids SNA base in southern Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Al-Shabaab's militants raided a Somali army base in southern Somalia, triggering a fierce gunfight that lasted for several hours, in the latest unprecedented attack against the security forces, in what could raise questions about the preparedness of Somalia government in the fight against the militants.
Wednesday's fight comes days after the militants claimed responsibility for the assassination of a District Commissioner in southern Somalia, after attacking his compound. The weekend attack left five people badly wounded including a daughter to the slain government official.
Authorities said that the militants made an entry in Deynunay about 26 kilometers from Baidoa, the regional administrative capital of Southwest, before opening fire against the soldiers who were manning the facility. The fighting lasted for several hours according to government officials.
An eyewitness said that at least 5 SNA soldiers died during the encounter along with dozens of militants. The soldiers who were injured have since been airlifted to Mogadishu, the Somalia capital for advanced treatment, but their number could not be established immediately.
Officials said that several militants died on spot but their number was also not immediately revealed. The militants, officials added, disappeared into nearby thickets after being subdued by determined soldiers and man-hunt has since been activated within the outskirts of the village.
The militants, witnesses said, used sophisticated weapons against the Somali army as they ransacked the base, which has been in existence for a couple of years. However, the SNA troops managed to recapture the base despite massive losses that were recorded.
Bay region is one of the most affected in the Al-Shabaab war and the militants still control large swathes of Southwest. Previously, the SNA troops have worked closely with the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] and regional security forces to contain the militants.
Al-Shabaab has often targeted military bases in Somalia, top government officials, perceived government, and military informers besides antagonizing foreigners. In the process, they have managed to run over several militants camps, but in recent months, they have had their plans backfiring.
The last time the militants successfully ran over a military camp was in February this year in Lower Shebelle. Police said that the militants managed to attack El-Salini military base, killing at least 25 military officers besides wounding several others.
But subsequent attempts at Barawe airport where Uganda People's Defense Forces [UPDF] man was thwarted by military officials. Also, other attacks in Bilis Qooqani and Dhobley were blocked by the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] who secure parts of Jubaland in Lower and Middle Juba.
Although the group cannot wage ground combats, they have, however, managed to launch successful small to large scale sporadic attacks in Somalia and across the borders. Kenya has borne the brunt of Al-Shabaab attacks due to frequent raids in the northeastern and coastal strip.
The militants have, however, lost influence in large parts of the country, losing key towns such as Janaale, which was captured in March this year. SNA troops are expected to assume security responsibilities from African Union Mission troops who are set to quit from Somalia next year.