Over 160 Al-Shabaab fighters killed in Somalia - minister
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Multiple operations waged by the Somali National Army [SNA] and their international partners left over 160 Al-Shabaab militants dead in the past week, a senior Somali official told stakeholders on Wednesday, terming operations across the country as "successful".
Daudi Aweys, the country's Minister of Information, said the forces have made significant progress in the frontlines, adding that Al-Shabaab has lost territories, particularly in HirShabelle, Galmadug, and Southwest states where the army has been combing ahead of the second phase of operations against the group.
According to Aweys, most militants were killed along the border of Galgaduud and Middle Shabelle regions where over 100 fighters were killed, adding that 60 more were killed in Goofgaduud, 30 kilometers west of Baidoa, the regional administrative capital of the Southwest state of Somalia.
During the operations, he added, military equipment and vehicles used by the militants were seized. The minister insisted that the progress would have not been a success had the international partners not chipped in to neutralize Al-Shabaab, who have been fighting for almost two decades.
This comes amid the ongoing drawdown of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] soldiers, with about 3,000 set to leave the country next month. But Aweys insists Somalia's security forces have the capacity to assume security responsibilities from the peacekeepers.
It is anticipated that the country will have stabilized by December 2024 when most peacekeepers will have left the Horn of Africa nation. Currently, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Burundi are contributing nations to the strong ATMIS Force which is responsible for the country's stability.
But President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has reached out to Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, requesting for deploying non-ATMIS troops to the country ahead of the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab. The second phase will target Southwest and Jubaland states, he added.