AU forces in Somalia take control of Halane Base camp after Al-Shabaab attack
MOGADISHU, Somalia - African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] troops have taken control of the heavily fortified Halane Base camp, officials said, following a security lapse that enhanced Al-Shabaab's attack on Wednesday.
Five mortar shells were fired into the base camp in the evening, although the AMISOM mission team did not reveal the extent of damage, or even casualties if any.
Halane Base camp is situated near Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu. Besides AU Mission, it also hosts the UN, United States embassy among other high profile offices.
Confirming the incident, AU Mission said the shells were fired around 19:12 hrs local time. It's not clear who was the immediate target for the Al-Shabaab militants.
"At 19:12 hrs yesterday, four mortars were fired into the Halane Base camp which houses AMISOM, UN, and other diplomatic missions," AMISOM said in a tweet, Thursday.
But immediately after the unprecedented attack, security forces were activated within and outside the base camp, to pursue the suspected Al-Shabaab militants, AMISOM said.
Already, the team completed combining the base and normal operations had resumed, without any interruptions, officials said, adding that "safety" had been restored in the region.
"Safety and security protocols were immediately activated. The security teams have this morning completed a full sweep of the Base camp," added the mission, in Thursday's clarification tweet.
AMISOM has dispatched close to 22,000 soldiers in Somalia for almost a decade now in the fight against Al-Shabaab. But the mission has tentatively set 2021 as the appropriate date for exiting before handing over the mantle to Somali National Army [SNA].
For years, the forces have managed to liberate strategic towns in the war-torn nation, the most recent being Janaale, which is located in Lower Shebelle, an Al-Shabaab prone region.
Lt. Gen. Tigabu Yilma, the AU Force Commander, termed the take over as "a success to our mission" in a statement where he also revealed that Al-Shabaab suffered casualties.
It's not clear whether the militants were on a retaliation mission after losing Janaale, a key agricultural town where the Al-Shabaab have been imposing Zakat of hard-working farmers.
While showing gratitude to the AU Forces following the takeover, the Somalia government said the town will now be under the control of the Special Forces drawn from Danab and Gorgor troops.
"Once an area is liberated by the SNA, SPF will gradually take over the mandate to keep law and order," Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said in a tweet.
He added: "This will be followed by the establishment of local administrations and the arrival of government and international actors to partner in overall stabilization."
But the latest attempted raid could yet again raise serious questions about the safety of the capital, Mogadishu which Al-Shabaab had lost control over in 2011 after AMISOM crackdown.
They're reports that the militants could have an unprecedented come back to the capital, where they are said to be controlling several businesses in which they have been reaping taxes to sustain their unscrupulous activities.