Somali Troops Perish in Fierce Clash with Jihadist Militants

Police officers stand next to the alleged Al-Shabab militants’ bodies slain after the siege at the Mogadishu Municipality Headquarters in Mogadishu on January 22, 2023. (AFP)

Somalia’s government reported that in a clash where they annihilated nearly 50 Al-Shabab fighters, they lost five soldiers on Saturday, roughly 350 kilometers (215 miles) north of Mogadishu.

Government troops and allied militia got a heads-up regarding an Al-Shabab assault planned in Ceeldheer, Galgadud region, laid a trap, and “wiped them out,” the statement noted.

Their forces eliminated at least 47 militants, while five soldiers fell in the battle, officials stated. They confirmed airstrikes also targeted Al-Shabab troops.

Al-Shabab accepted responsibility for the attack on Ceeldheer.

Local witness Mohamed Hussein told AFP over the phone: “Heavy fighting erupted in Ceeldheer town this morning after Al-Shabab attacked from multiple directions.”

“Determining control was challenging earlier, but now it’s clear Somali government forces hold full control,” he added.

Hassan Gutale, another resident, said: “There were at least six significant explosions with hours of combat.”

Elected in May 2022, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud pledged to launch an all-out offensive against the Islamist group.

For over 16 years, Al-Shabab has been waging a ruinous insurgency against Mogadishu’s fragile central government.

Despite being ousted from the capital by an African Union force in 2011, they remain entrenched in Somalia’s rural areas.

Repeated attacks have been carried out on political, security, and civilian targets predominantly in Somalia and neighboring countries like Kenya.

Somalia’s struggling federal government has allied with local clan militias against the Islamists, reclaiming chunks of central Somalia in an operation supported by an AU mission (ATMIS) and U.S. airstrikes.

However, the offensive faced hurdles, with Al-Shabab earlier this year asserting they had seized multiple centers in the country’s middle.

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