Al-Shabaab's IED explosion targets AMISOM troops near Mogadishu
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A vehicle ferrying African Union Mission troops in Somalia was completely dismembered on Tuesday after running over a landmine, reports indicate, in an incident which occurred in Elasha Biyaha, a village in Lower Shabelle region which is located few miles from the capital Mogadishu.
An eyewitness said the vehicle ran over a remote-controlled IED, destroying the vehicle on the spot but details about casualties were still sketchy. However, in a statement, the Somalia-based militants claimed to have killed four AMISOM troops during the encounter.
According to the militants, who dispatched the statement through proxy media outlets, the IED caught AMISOM troops off guard, leading to the death of the four, who were traveling to Lower Shebelle for official duties.
"Our forces hit the target. We destroyed the enemies' vehicles and eliminated four of their troops. This was a successful mission and we shall continue to target them if they can't leave our country in peace. We shall continue also to protect civilians," read the statement.
But unlike in the past, the militants did not post photos to prove their claims in any of their known social media accounts or those of the proxy sites. Usually, the militants publish images of dead officers and destroyed or seized equipment to prove their point, one of the antics they've used for over a decade.
However, while acknowledging Tuesday's attack in the vicinity of Mogadishu, AMISOM denied claims that its soldiers perished during the incident. According to the mission, all the occupants managed to be evacuated from the ill-fated vehicle safely immediately after the explosion.
"There were no casualties from the incident. Our soldiers managed to safely escape from the vehicle. Currently, the team is pursuing the militants in their hideouts. We remain committed to helping Somalia to defeat the enemy and this will be done without inconveniencing the population," read the statement.
The Al-Shabaab militants were flushed out of the town 2011 following a joint operation conducted by the Somali National Army [SNA], African Union troops, and the US Africa Command. But in recent months, the militants have managed to wage small to large scale sporadic attacks within the capital.
Tuesday's incident was the third targeting AMISOM troops in the last 24 hours. In the first incident on Monday, an AMISOM soldier was killed in HirShabelle after an altercation between two contingents of security forces who had differed on land ownership.
On Monday night, three SNA soldiers were killed after their convoy was ambushed at Qalimow town on the outskirts of Jowhar after picking supplies from the AMISOM base within the region. While claiming responsibility, Al-Shabaab also said two vehicles were destroyed.
The mild attacks come amid an ongoing crackdown against the militants across the country. For instance, several militants surrendered in Lower Shebelle on Monday following an operation launched by SNA's 60th Division under the stewardship of Gen. Mohamed Sheikh.
Al-Shabaab militants, who pledged allegiance to Al-Qaida about ten years ago, have significantly lost some of their former territories in central and southern Somalia. The joint operation aimed at crushing the group targets Shebelle and Jubba regions of Somalia.