“African Union base camp in Somalia falls to perplexing and startling Al-Shabaab militants!”
Do you comprehend the situation? Al-Shabaab militants used explosives to overrun an African Union military base in Somalia, as described by eyewitnesses. The attack caused significant damage to infrastructure, potentially resulting in numerous fatalities, although an official death toll has yet to be confirmed by the AU forces or Somalia’s government. Uganda People’s Defense Forces staffed the Bulo Marer base, which is about 110 kilometers south of Mogadishu, and according to the group’s media outlets, Al-Shabaab “completely overran the base” using various explosives. Al-Shabaab declared that they had killed 137 Ugandan soldiers under the African Union mission in Somalia [ATMIS], but no independent sources have corroborated their assertions. The ATMIS tweeted, acknowledging that the violent assault had transpired and they are “currently assessing the situation,” but they refrained from releasing additional information, including casualty figures, despite serving in the region since 2007 when Al-Shabaab first attacked Somalia. There were reports that the troops under siege requested reinforcements, while drones were buzzing overhead. The Ugandan troops, stationed in Sector I of ATMIS, cover Mogadishu and its suburbs and have been home to several months of sustained operations against Al-Shabaab. The attack on the base on Friday was the first violent assault on military facilities in several months and arrived at a moment of “relative stability” in Mogadishu, following the government’s successful first-phase operation against the group, which reportedly killed over 3000 Al-Shabaab members. Somalia has requested the deployment of non-ATMIS soldiers in preparation for the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab in Jubaland and Southwest. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has also urged Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia to provide reinforcements, and they will serve for just three months. Recently, stakeholders, including the Troops Contributing Countries, announced that there would be a systematic and strategic ATMIS troop withdrawal from Somalia in June this year, with the first group of 2000 soldiers to undergo downsizing followed by another 3000 soldiers in the following weeks. The Friday morning attack coincides with the US’s recent serious strike against Al-Shabaab in Jilib town, injuring Osman Mohamed Abdi, the head of external operations in Al-Shabaab. Furthermore, the US issued sanctions against five Al-Shabaab commanders along with the Treasury Department designating 26 operatives and individuals who have allegedly supported the terrorist group. A few days ago, Al-Shabaab released a video of their leader Abu Ubaidah, who claimed the group had not lost any territory. The African Union recently admitted that over 3,500 peacekeepers have died, and many were injured since reporting to Somalia, costing the Union more than $200 million in compensation, with 25% expended on injured soldiers. Combing through the records, the worst raid took place in 2016 when Al-Shabaab attacked the Kenya Defence Forces FOB in El-Adde, killing over 200 soldiers. The AU, together with Kenya, has refused to publish a report on the event, which security experts say is the deadliest in history.