MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Somali National Army [SNA] has announced victory over Al-Shabaab militants in the unstable Lower Shabelle region, a top official said Monday after a series of operations targeting the Al-Qaeda-linked group that has been wreaking havoc on East Africa for the past 14 years.
Since January, the SNA, African Union Mission troops and the US Africa Command have carried out sophisticated operations against militants across Somalia, and the result certainly seems convincing, according to reports from the Somali National Army. But it is in Lower Shebelle that the team had shifted attention to the fact that the Army is now reporting huge progress in the latest statement, claiming that the militants have ceded land in large parts of Lower Shebelle, which has been a stronghold for militants .
General Ahmed Hassan Sayid, commander of the 143rd unit of the SNA, told reporters that on Monday the team killed 12 Al-Shabaab militants in the Barire town of Lower Shabelle after hours of confrontations. The militants, he added, had camped in a nearby village before being ambushed. “Our troops managed to eliminate 12 militants today in Barire after hours of fighting and I can confirm that none of our team were wounded. We will continue to pursue these militants and we thank the local community for the wonderful cooperation,” he said. he and added that a number of the militants were captured. During the operation, he noted that the top leaders of Al-Shabaab were killed by government troops, who have since taken control of the city. The operation also saw several IEDs detonated by the army, which had been planted by the militants along major supply routes in Somalia. “In nearby Toratorow, our soldiers managed to kill the top Al-Shabaab commanders, who have coordinated attacks on security forces and innocent civilians. We also detonated several IEDs that had been planted along major supply routes,” the commander said. The army officer added that the region was secured from the Al-Shabaab militants and said the army will however continue to monitor the region to ensure there are no militants left. He said most areas have been handed over to officials. The dramatic victory comes just weeks after the militants lost Abdulkadir Commandos, who was the senior Al-Shabaab coordinator in Lower Shebelle. He was killed on the outskirts of Saakow in the region after an air strike carried out by the US-African Command in collaboration with FGS. Al-Shabaab has struggled to overthrow the weak UN-backed Somalia government, but their efforts have often been met with opposition from government troops. The group has close to 7,000 active fighters, but increased ground combat, air strikes and reported internal intrigue have significantly worsened it in the last few months.