SNA troops kill several Al-Shabaab militants in Southern Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A contingent of Somali National Army [SNA] troops waged yet again a deadly operation against Al-Shabaab militants on Sunday in Bardale, officials said, leaving at least seven terrorists dead and over five injured, in an incident which showcases the growing confidence of the young army.
Struggling with inter-clan conflicts, natural calamities such as floods, and Al-Shabaab menace, Somalia has been heavily relying on the internal community for both security and financial help, but it has shown signs of progress in rebuilding its institutions.
According to officials, the SNA troops mainly drawn from the elite Danab and Gorgor contingents targeted the militants in Bardale, a town that has been on the radar for a long time. It is located within the Bay, Lower Shebelle region, Southwest state of Somalia.
There was minimal resistance from the militants, who have lost several strategic towns in recent battles, and some who were overpowered, scampered for their safety in nearby bushes, authorities said, adding that SNA is pursuing the criminals.
The militants who were injured are currently under the custody of SNA troops and will be prosecuted based on existing regulations. Because they didn't surrender, they're likely to get death sentences once presented before the military court.
Several AK 47 rifles and rounds of ammunition were recovered during the operation, sources said. Bardale region falls under the jurisdiction of Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia.
However, there are no indications that the ENDF participated in the onslaught, but the troops have been preparing for the last and final assault against Al-Shabaab before their anticipated exit from Somalia in 2021 when AMISOM's mandate expires.
The operation came just barely 24 hours after two serious raids against the militants within Bardale, which were conducted by SNA and a group of tribal militia on Friday. A total of three militants were killed during the two encounters, state-owned SONNA had reported.
Salad Dhere, a top Al-Shabaab operative, was one of those killed after security forces raided BulaHawo Galgaleed village near Bardale, a town within Southwest state, which is manned by Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] and a contingent of Somali National Army [SNA], who work jointly with regional troops.
The Al-Shabaab has been erecting roadblocks in regions under its control where residents have often been forced to part with money, which is partly used to sustain the militant's activities. Zakat taxes finance most of Al-Shabaab's activities in East Africa.
During the incident, another militant who had been working closely with Dhere was severely wounded, authorities said. An AK 47 rifle was recovered and the injured militant is still under the custody of the military there he's likely to be tried in compliance with military traditions. They were in charge of finances in the town.
It is in Lower Shebelle that security forces have intensified their crackdown against Al-Shabaab, leading to the liberation of many villages in recent months. One of the strategic towns which were captured includes Janaale, which was considered as an Al-Shabaab revenue center.
Later on Friday night in Kurtun area within Bardale, a prominent villager called Beyhaal Haji was killed following a fight between Al-Shabaab and some villagers from Jameecada Reerbannaani. According to reports, the villagers were retaliating following the abduction of three religious leaders.
In response, the villagers killed two Al-Shabaab militants forcing others to flee from the scenes. Security forces have since been deployed to the region where they are conducting a man-hunt for the Al-Shabaab, who are believed to be hiding in nearby villages.
Since 2008, Al-Shabaab has been fighting to topple the fragile UN-backed Somalia government, which has struggled to stamp its authority by securing regions under the militants. In their territories, Al-Shabaab has established parallel administration.
The SNA has been depending on backup from the African Union Mission troops in Somalia, whose tenure expires in 2021. The mission troops who are drawn from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, and Djibouti will formally handover their responsibilities to SNA in January 2021 according to the Somali Transition Plan.