Exclusive: Somalia to launch 2nd phase of offensive against Al-Shabaab

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is set to announce the launch of the second phase of the Al-Shabaab crackdown after the group liberated from many villages, a source has confided with Garowe Online, in what comes at the time Somalis are observing the Holy Month of Ramadan fasting.

The announcement, the source said, will be soon following the conclusion of the first phase which saw several Al-Shabaab militants killed across the country. The Somali National Army [SNA] with the help of US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], and local militia managed to liberate several villages.

Already, the president has arrived in Aden Yabal in the Middle Shabelle region which was the epicenter of battles between the Somali National Army and Al-Shabaab militants. The region recorded one of the historic victories for the national army which managed to topple the militants after several years of control which was coupled with intimidation of locals.

According to the informer, the objective of the second phase will mainly be anchored on liberating the remaining areas under their control, especially in central parts and southern Somalia where the militants used to enjoy dominance. The Al-Shabaab militants have been carrying out retaliatory attacks in response to operations against them.

Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia promised to dispatch more soldiers to Somalia to help the country fight the militants and already, Addis Ababa has complied. On Saturday an Ethiopian military delegation led by Major General Tesfaye Ayalew, Head of the Ethiopian National Defense Force Deployment, and Gen Haji from the Somali regional state visited Beledweyne City Central Somalia as ENDF prepared to take part in a planned FGS offensive in Hiran region.

The Al-Shabaab militants have changed tactics according to a report – having adopted night combat and increased use of IEDs, including suicide vehicle-borne IEDs [SVBIED] and vehicle-borne IEDs – heightened the violence in the Galgaduud region.

The group on Saturday launched a coordinated attack on Runirgood village in Middle Shabelle region after peacefully vacating the village. The episode started with an under-vehicle IED [UVIED] followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire from both sides.

At least 25 soldiers were reportedly killed, including Deputy Commander of Danab/Bancroft Major Hassan Mohamed Osman Tuure in another attack in Gal'ad within Galmudug State last month. The next day al-Shabaab conducted another attack near the village when it detonated a remote-controlled IED it planted targeting a government security forces convoy, reportedly killing three soldiers.

On 8 March, al-Shabaab attempted the same tactic again in Ceel Dheer village, detonating an IED that damaged a government security force vehicle and injured one soldier. The United States has pledged to help the country eliminate the militants and subsequently, install civilian administration in areas liberated from the group.

GAROWE ONLINE

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