US-trained Danab forces capture Al-Shabaab militants during operation in central Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Several Al-Shabaab militants were captured during a sophisticated operation launched by elite Danab forces in War-Galo town, at least 75 kilometers east of troubled Galkayo town, SNA confirmed, with the Monday crackdown being part of ongoing efforts to restore normalcy in Somalia.
For several months now, the elite troops have been engaging Al-Shabaab militants across the country, as part of a concerted effort to liberate many regions that still remain under the autocratic reign of the Al-Qaida linked group, which controls large swathes of rural southern and central Somalia.
The Danab forces raided several hideouts for the militants, seizing explosives and other sophisticated weapons, which are used to inflict deaths and injuries against innocent civilians and security forces.
Without disclosing the number of militants who were arrested during the crackdown, SNA officials said: "they will now be subjected to the rule of law and would be compelled to give credible information on their operations within the country".
The operation, SNA added, saw top commanders operating in central Somalia arrested, a move which they added that was "a tremendous success to our relentless troops who want to see a united Somalia".
Galkayo city has been the main terror hotspot, has often seen inter-clan conflicts before due to its borders between Puntland and Galmadug, the semi-autonomous states within the war-torn nation in the Horn of Africa.
During the raid, officials said, one Danab soldier was critically injured and has since been airlifted to Balligodle army base for treatment. The base plays home to their trainers, US Africa Command forces, whose number is estimated to be around 500 in Somalia.
It is not the first time the troops are capturing Al-Shabaab operatives. In March this year, the troops seized Janaale town within Lower Shebelle, in an operation which left over 140 militants dead, 28 injured and 18 nabbed.
Throughout the national operation, the Al-Shabaab has also been retaliating, with the latest coming on Sunday when Mudug Governor Muse Nur was killed in a bomb explosion within Galkayo town. In March, the militants also killed Nugaal Governor Abdisalan Hassan Hersi in Garowe, the regional administrative capital of Puntland.
Last week, several operations were launched in Puntland near the seaside town of Bosaso in Puntland, which left three militants dead, officials said. Several explosives and AK 47 rifles were recovered during the operation.
At Lower Shebelle, SNA commander Abdihamid Mohamed said at least five militants were also killed in Janaale and Qoryoley regions after the Danaab forces raided their hideouts last week. The troops using execute their operations with close monitoring from the US army.
The SNA troops are preparing to take over security responsibilities from the Africa Union Mission soldiers, who are set to leave in 2021. There are close to 22,000 AMISOM troops mainly stationed in Jubaland and parts of HirShabelle and Southwest.
Over the weekend, the US troops also carried out the first operation within the Holy month of Ramadan, which left two terrorists dead in Qunyo Barrow, another notorious hideout for the Al-Shabaab, AFRICOM said in a statement on Monday.
Despite the unrelenting spirit of the forces, the Al-Shabaab militants have continued to carry small to large scale sporadic attacks within and outside Somalia, mainly targeting security forces and at times, innocent civilians.
For instance, one person was killed on Wednesday morning within Banadir junction in Mogadishu following an explosion suspected to have been engineered by the militants. The affected vehicle was ferrying a senior health official, sources said.
Three people were critically injured and are currently receiving treatment. Mogadishu is one of the major targets for the Al-Shabaab militants, given that they lost their influence in 2011 following joint operations by Somali security forces and those from the AU mission.