Friday May 26, 2023
Unspeakable terror has struck once again in Somalia, as al-Shabab militants launch an attack against the African Union peacekeeping mission in the country. Reports indicate that the rebels targeted a military base in Bulamarer, 130km from the capital, Mogadishu, where Ugandan forces were situated. In a fiery exchange that lasted for hours on end, it has been claimed that 137 soldiers have tragically lost their lives, according to a statement released by al-Shabab. However, no official confirmation of the casualty count has yet been announced, and the group has been known to release figures that differ from those issued by the authorities.
Residents of the region have been left in dire straits, waking up to the sound of huge explosions and witnessing heavy weapons being deployed. “Now we see al-Shabab in the town. We cannot know how many died. We are not hearing any shots from ATMIS and government now,” resident Rukia Farah said, describing the chaos that has ensued.
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has been tasked with assisting the government’s military forces in their battle against al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab. The mission has been operating since 2022 when it took over from the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and has 22,000 troops at its disposal. Despite the latest assault, the ATMIS was reported to be assessing the security situation.
According to Deputy Spokesman Deo Akiiki from the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), who was present during the attack, ATMIS officials are yet to provide official communication. “There was an attack this morning at our base…by elements of al-Shabab, but we are waiting for official communication from ATMIS headquarters,” he said.
Meanwhile, al-Shabab has taken responsibility for its actions, stating that it carried out the attack and killed 137 soldiers. Nevertheless, with no verification available as of yet, the situation remains shrouded in darkness and uncertainty.
Al-Shabab has been waging a relentless war against Somalia’s government and its allied forces since 2006, with the ongoing conflict having sparked unimaginable human suffering. Despite significant gains being made in eroding the group’s domination of vast swathes of territory, they are still able to mount significant attacks on various targets, including military and commercial sites.
In addition to this, they also conduct periodic assaults against neighboring Kenya as part of retaliation for the presence of Kenyan troops in support of the Somali government. With the situation continuing to remain unpredictable and increasingly volatile, the world watches in anticipation, hoping for a day when peace and stability finally reign in Somalia.