Somali Forces Successfully Hold Strategic Base After al-Shabab Assault
Monday September 11, 2023
Somali government forces successfully defended a crucial military base in the southern Lower Shabelle region against an assault by al-Shabab.
According to officials, hundreds of militants launched an attack on the key town of Awdhegle, situated on the banks of the Shabelle River, in the early hours of Sunday.
The clash resulted in intense fighting between al-Shabab fighters and government forces, who have maintained control over the town since August 2019 when they ousted the militants.
Awdhegle holds strategic importance as the government forces safeguard a vital bridge that hampers the smuggling of al-Shabab vehicles carrying explosives into the capital, Mogadishu.
Residents informed VOA Somali that the militants managed to infiltrate certain sections of the base before being repelled by government forces.
Mohamed Ibrahim Barre, the governor of the region, explained to VOA Somali that the militants employed explosives during their assault.
“They launched their attack from both the north and west directions,” he stated. “The confrontation lasted nearly two hours.”
In an official statement, the federal government of Somalia declared that over 60 militants were killed. Video clips depicting the bodies of purported al-Shabab fighters slain during the battle were circulated by government officials. However, the number of bodies seen seemed to be smaller than the figures mentioned in the official statement.
In response, al-Shabab claimed to have killed 59 government soldiers, conceding the loss of seven of their fighters. Yet, the accuracy of casualty figures remains unverified by independent sources.
Al-Shabab characterized Sunday’s attack as part of a “wider campaign of coordinated assaults” against government forces, marking the fifth assault within a span of two weeks.
One of the aforementioned attacks occurred on August 26 in the village of Cowsweyne, located in Galmudug state, where numerous government soldiers were slain. This assault compelled government troops to retreat from several frontline towns in Galmudug.
Government forces successfully repelled militants in the other three incidents. Notably, on September 1, al-Shabab militants launched an attack on the agricultural town of Qoryoley, west of Awdhegle, temporarily gaining entry. However, local forces regained complete control after a 90-minute gun battle.