In a tragic incident in the Mudug region of Somalia, Al-Shabaab militants ambushed and killed numerous local fighters. This is a significant setback in the ongoing efforts to combat the group, which holds control over vast parts of rural central and southern Somalia. The ambush occurred between Wisil and Shabeelow, resulting in a fierce gunfight between the rival groups. Local militia have been crucial in supporting the Somali National Army [SNA] in their fight against Al-Shabaab.
The clash began when senior military and civilian officials, who were on the frontline, went to a hill to improve their phone reception. However, they were unexpectedly ambushed by al-Shabaab militants who had been monitoring their movements. According to witnesses, around 30 local fighters have been killed in the ensuing battle. Among the deceased are a senior military officer and civilian officials who had traveled from Galkayo town to support the troops.
Al-Shabaab militants have claimed responsibility for killing 58 individuals and injuring over 70, but these figures have not been independently verified. The group tends to exaggerate casualties to spread fear among civilians and security forces attempting to stabilize Somalia. While security teams have yet to confirm this tragedy, the Somali government recently reported that around 1,650 Al-Shabaab militants have been killed and 550 wounded in ongoing operations within central Somalia. However, this data has not been independently confirmed.
In light of these events, Somalia has requested a temporary halt to the withdrawal of troops from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS]. The government cited logistical challenges for this request. Last month, ATMIS had been preparing to withdraw approximately 3,000 soldiers from the country as part of the Somali Transition Plan.