Four soldiers feared dead as boat capsizes in southern Somalia


MOGADISHU, Somalia - At least four Somali National Army soldiers are feared dead after their boat capsized on Monday near Marka town in the Indian Ocean coastline, Lower Shebelle officials have confirmed, Garowe Online reports.

Ten others including the commander were rescued by well-wishers. The soldiers were traveling to the capital Mogadishu, which is located at least 100 kilometers away.

According to the sources, the SNA troops were evading Al-Shabaab blockade along the Marka-Mogadishu highway.

For months, the SNA soldiers within the town have been using the Indian Ocean to transport goods to and from Mogadishu given the threat posed by Al-Shabaab militants along the highway.

The government termed the incident as an 'accident', ruling out possibilities of an ambush by the militants. Bodies of the four soldiers are yet to be retrieved from the deep-sea waters.

Marka town, situated in the unstable Lower Shebelle region, was liberated from the Al-Shabaab in 2012. The militants have, however, taken strategic villages on the outskirts of the town.

In the past few months, both Al-Shabaab and SNA have suffered casualties in the Lower Shebelle region, following heavy fighting compounds with frequent Al-Shabaab explosions.

A fortnight ago, at least 10 Al-Shabaab militants were killed at Ballidogle military base, where they had attempted to run over. The base is manned by US African Command troops and deadly Danaab special forces.

For over 10 years, Al-Shabaab militants have been fighting legitimate governments with the aim of setting a parallel administration. Their efforts have faced fierce resistance.

Both the United Nations and African Union are sponsoring peace missions in the Horn of Africa nation, deploying over 20,000 soldiers from a number of East African countries in the process.

Reporting by Abuga Makori in Nairobi; Editing by Omar Nor


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