Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Al-Shabab militants have launched an attack on a military camp in Hilowle-Gaab, a village located in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia, close to the border with Galgudud on Friday.
Reports indicate casualties on both sides in the dawn attack, with Al-Shabab claiming that their fighters had successfully “overrun” the camp. The government has not released an official statement in response to the incident.
The government has, however, challenged Al-Shabab’s assertion that there were significant casualties among government soldiers in the attack.
Ahmed Hassan Adow (Daaci), a leader of the government soldiers and the former commissioner of the Wadajir district, stated that while the attack resulted in some government casualties, they were relatively minor.
Adow also claimed that the government forces inflicted damage on the Al-Shabab militants who carried out the attack and have since regained control of the area.”
This attack marks the second assault by Al-Shabab in the HirShabelle state in a matter of days. On Wednesday, two car bombings orchestrated by the group in the Mahas district of Hiiraan resulted in the deaths of at least 35 people, including ten members of a single family, and the injury of an additional 40 individuals.
According to the deputy police commissioner of Hirshabelle State, Hassan-Kafi Mohamed Ibrahim, “most of the dead are civilians. They are women and children.”
The latest attack in Mahas saw twin car bombings targeting a town’s residential area. The first bomb went off in front of the district commissioner’s house, Mumin Mohamed Halane, while the second targeted a lawmaker’s home. Many nearby homes were also damaged in the explosions, potentially trapping survivors inside.
Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that 87 people, including military officials and soldiers, were killed.
While the authorities have not released an official casualty count, a senior Somali government official stated that at least 20 people were killed, and 30 others were injured. Other media reports put the death toll at 35, with 40 wounded. Many of the injured were airlifted to the capital city of Mogadishu for treatment.
The attack in Mahas comes as the Somali government, aided by local clan militias, African Union peacekeeping forces, and the United States (which has utilized drone strikes against Shabab fighters), continues its campaign against Al-Shabab.
Since the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in May, the government has declared an all-out war on the group, intending to limit their geographical reach and sever their financial resources.
While the military campaign has seen government forces kill hundreds of militants and retake several towns and villages in southern and central Somalia, Al-Shabab has continued to carry out deadly attacks across the country, including a 30-hour siege on a hotel in the capital that killed 21 people in August of last year.