Dismantling Danger: AU Mission Neutralizes 439 Improvised Explosive Devices in Somalia Since 2017

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) announced on Friday that it has successfully disposed of 439 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Somalia since 2017. According to Justin Smith, Chief of Mine Action for the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Somalia, cooperation between Somali Security Forces (SSF), ATMIS, and the UN has prevented an estimated 1,756 potential casualties. Over the years, UNMAS has helped detect and eliminate a significant number of IEDs planted by al-Shabab militants in different parts of the country. In 2023, ATMIS Search and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams found and cleared 74 percent of devices targeting ATMIS troops, preventing around 150 possible casualties. This was shared by Smith during the conclusion of a three-day training in Mogadishu on countering IEDs used by illegal armed groups like al-Shabab. The training, supported by the UN, gathered 80 officers from the SSF and ATMIS to enhance their capacity in dealing with IED risks in Somalia’s federal member states. The program covered various aspects of IED detection, disposal, and post-blast investigation methods. Kindu Gezu, ATMIS military chief of staff, believes this training is crucial for degrading al-Shabab in support of Somalia’s peace and security efforts. Gezu highlighted the need for constant vigilance against IED threats, which are al-Shabab’s primary weapon in asymmetric warfare. Participants also discussed Somalia’s IED threats, the threat assessment by the Somali National Army, and current counter-IED operations during the training.

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