Somalia army repels attack on military base, kills 12 Al-Shabaab extremists
BAIDOA, Somalia - Somali army repulsed an Al-Shabaab attack on Deynunay military base, a top commander confirmed, in the latest blow to the militants, who have significantly lost grip in their traditional strongholds.
For some hours on Wednesday morning, the militants seized the military base in Deynunay village, approximately 20 kilometers from Baidoa, the interim administrative capital of Southwest state, officials said.
Troops from SNA engaged the militants in a fierce gunfight before retreating, witnesses said, with Al-Shabaab resorting to lecturing of villagers and seizing sophisticated weapons and ammunition from the base.
But in a swift counterattack, the elite forces managed to reign over the militants in an intensive gunfire exchange, which lasted for several hours, leaving several militants dead.
Gen. Mohamed Sheikh Abdullahi, the commander of the 60th Division of SNA, confirmed the attack at the army base in the Bay region, adding that over 12 militants died during the encounter.
"Al-Shabaab was smashed by elite troops from Somali National Army [SNA] and pushed back during the counter-attack. The base is now under our full control and the situation has returned to normal," added Abdullahi.
The village has come under Al-Shabaab raid on numerous occasions before, but they have often lost to gallant SNA troops, officials said. The attack left five soldiers dead and several injured, witnesses said.
Abdullahi said: "We had engaged them in a retaliatory attack and managed to drive them away. They have suffered several casualties and by counting, we have found 12 bodies scattered along with the village."
The militants have often targeted military outposts in Somalia in their cowardly attacks. Last month, they raided El-Salini military base in Lower Shebelle, killing at least 20 SNA soldiers, police said.
But Gen. Abdullahi believes the militants do not have the "capability to defeat SNA troops" in their cowardly attempts to topple the government and establish a parallel administration in Somalia.
More often than not, the Al-Shabaab militants usually withdraw from certain areas before recapturing them, but on Wednesday, they were overpowered by the strong SNA troops who managed to stamp authority, officials added.
Although there has been a concerted effort by Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF], SNA troops and Southwest regional troops to defeat the militants in the region, Al-Shabaab has maintained a firm grip of Bay and Bakool regions.
The ENDF under AMISOM is in charge of most parts of the Southwest state. The AMISOM team is working closely with the FGS ahead of planned exit in 2021 when their mandate will formally come to an end.
Al-Shabaab remained holed up in sections if rural central and southern Somalia regions, after losing grip of the capital, Mogadishu in 2011, ending their chaotic administration which had almost crippled the country.
Last week, they lost to SNA, AMISOM and US military in Janaale town in Lower Shebelle, ending their years of intimidation, autocracy which was coupled by rampant taxation targeting civilians, officials said.
The US has increased airstrikes in central and southern Somalia, managing to eliminate key leaders. Bashir Qorgab, one of the operatives, was killed on Feb. 22 in Saakow town in Middle Juba, AFRICOM said.
SNA victory against the militants at Deynunay is also a manifestation that the troops are ready to assume security assignments in Somalia, once the peacekeeping troops leave next year.
To restore order and civility, SNA troops have been remaining in liberated towns to establish dependable administrations for the sake of service delivery for Somali people, who have been without a functional government since 1991 after the ouster of Siad Barre.