Somali forces have successfully defended a crucial military base in the southern Lower Shabelle region against an attack by al-Shabab militants.
The attack took place in the town of Awdhegle, located on the banks of the Shabelle River, and resulted in heavy fighting between the government forces and the militants.
Ever since the government forces took control of Awdhegle in August 2019, they have been responsible for protecting a key bridge that plays a vital role in preventing the smuggling of al-Shabab vehicles carrying explosives into the capital city, Mogadishu. Consequently, the defense of this town is of great importance.
According to reports, hundreds of militants launched the attack on Sunday morning, targeting the base and attempting to infiltrate it. However, the government forces swiftly responded, repelling the militants and preventing them from gaining control of the base. Some residents of Awdhegle reported that the militants managed to breach parts of the base initially but were quickly pushed back by the government forces.
The governor of the region, Mohamed Ibrahim Barre, revealed that the militants used explosives during their attack, which intensified the fighting. The battle lasted for approximately two hours, with government forces successfully fending off the militants from both the northern and western directions of the town.
In a statement issued by the federal government of Somalia, it was announced that over 60 militants were killed during the clash. Moreover, government officials circulated video clips showcasing the bodies of alleged al-Shabab fighters, further substantiating their claims of the militants’ casualties. However, it should be noted that these figures have not been independently verified.
Meanwhile, al-Shabab released a statement asserting that they managed to kill 59 government soldiers during the attack. The militant group also admitted to losing seven of their own fighters. The accuracy of these casualty figures is yet to be confirmed.
Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the killing of 59 government soldiers, as stated in their official statement. The group also acknowledged the loss of seven of their own fighters. However, the accuracy of these casualty figures has not been independently verified.
According to al-Shabab, Sunday’s attack was part of a larger, coordinated campaign against government forces, marking the fifth such attack in the past two weeks. One of these attacks occurred in the village of Cowsweyne in Galmudug state on August 26, resulting in the deaths of numerous government soldiers and forcing them to retreat from several front-line towns in the area.
While government forces were able to repel militants in three of the other incidents, al-Shabab briefly entered the agricultural town of Qoryoley on September 1, located west of Awdhegle. After a 90-minute gun battle, local forces were able to regain full control of the town.