Al-Shabab strikes as AU troops retreat in Somalia

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Somalia’s ongoing struggle with Al-Shabab militant group intensified on Wednesday when the jihadists targeted a military base in the southern city of Baardhere.

The incident, which coincided with the announcement of an African Union (AU) troop reduction, prompted a fierce exchange of gunfire.

In an attack underscoring the volatile security situation in the African nation, two suicide bomb blasts wreaked havoc at the military base.

Ethiopian and Somali forces share this facility.

Local police officer Abdi Bare detailed the sequence of events, stating, “The first explosion was likely executed by a suicide bomber at the entrance of the ADC military base, where Ethiopian forces are based and also train Somali troops.”

The second blast transpired within minutes of the first, prompting casualties whose details were not immediately available.

In the aftermath of the attack, Bare Hassan, a local resident, reported “heavy gunfire.” He noted, however, that normalcy had since been restored in the area.

The Al-Shabab threat: A persistent challenge

This attack is another chapter in the ongoing bloody insurgency waged by Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, against the fragile Somali central government.

Despite significant efforts from pro-government forces and the AU-backed ATMIS force, Al-Shabab continues to pose a potent threat.

In a recent demonstration of their might, 54 Ugandan peacekeepers lost their lives last month when Al-Shabab stormed an AU base southwest of Mogadishu.

This incident was among the deadliest since the offensive was launched last year.

On the same day as the Baardhere attack, the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS) announced its plan to reduce troop numbers in Somalia, following United Nations resolutions mandating the drawdown of 2,000 soldiers by June end, 2023.

ATMIS, a more offensive-oriented mission, replaced AMISOM last year. The latter was a 20,000-strong force drawn from several nations, including Burundi, Kenya, and Uganda.

New leadership amid security concerns

The security situation remains tenuous with the upsurge of Al-Shabab attacks, so the Somali government has taken proactive steps.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud replaced the head of the army, Odowaa Yusuf Rageh, with Ibrahim Sheikh Muhidin earlier this week.

Since the fall of dictator Siad Barre’s military regime in 1991, Somalia, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been ensnared in political instability.

The recent surge in Al-Shabab attacks adds another layer of complexity to a nation yearning for stability and peace.