Al-Shabaab fighters conducting military drills outside the Somalian capital of Mogadishu. The US is behind an international attempt to crush the resistance movement., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
12 dead as Somalia Shebab attack town on Kenya border
(AFP)--MOGADISHU — Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters briefly took control of a small town on the border with Kenya at the weekend, and they were blamed for two roadside bombs in one of their former bastions that killed five people.
The Islamists seized Bulohawo in a battle that left at least 12 people dead, military officials and witnesses said Sunday. The assault took place on Saturday.
Two roadside bomb attacks in the Somali port city and former Shebab stronghold of Kismayo killed at least five people on Sunday. At least four people died in an attack near a market where women sell khat, a mild stimulant very popular in Somalia. Another person was killed in a second attack.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, they were nevertheless blamed on the Shebab Islamists. The Shebab were pushed out of Kismayo in September after Kenyan troops allied with pro-government Somali militia stormed the town.
"Two explosions hit the town today," Ahmed Adam, a commander from the pro-government Ras Kamboni militia, told AFP by telephone from Kismayo.
"The first one killed a woman and injured two others while the second, which was detonated near the khat market, killed several, we are still investigating the exact number," he said.
"Shebab carried out the attacks but they only killed civilians," he added.
Residents however said men from his militia were among the casualties.
Hassan Ilyas, a resident who saw the second bomb go off, said it killed two militia fighters and two women selling khat.
The Shebab, who have kept a low profile over the past weeks, on Saturday briefly took control of a small town on the border with Kenya, before being pushed back.
Heavy fighting broke out Saturday afternoon in Bulohawo and lasted into the evening, residents and military commanders said. Residents confirmed that the Shebab took full control of the town for a few hours before Somali troops were able to reinforce their positions.
"The violent elements attacked Bulohawo in late afternoon and after heavy fighting our forces defeated them and inflicted heavy losses," Diyad Abdi Kalil, a Somali military commander in the area, told AFP.
Casualty estimates varied but most sources agreed that at least a dozen people, most of them fighters for the two sides, had been killed.
"The Shebab attacked the town from three directions and penetrated the barracks of the Somali troops after heavy fighting. They briefly took control of the town but were later forced back. Twelve people, most of them the fighters from the two sides, died," said resident Sadik Mohamed.
Another resident, Hussein Mahat Abdulle, confirmed he had seen bodies in government uniform as well as bodies of what looked like Shebab fighters.
Kalil said his men had killed "nearly 20" Shebab, but a spokesman for the Islamists dismissed that claim, saying his men had killed 15 Somali government troops.
Bulohawo, which lies just across the border from the town of Mandera in the extreme northeast of Kenya, was calm on Sunday, residents said.
Officials said two civilians in Mandera town had been hit by gunfire during the fighting.
The Shebab have been blamed for a series of cross-border raids into northeastern Kenya since Nairobi's troops invaded southern Somalia last year to chase out the Islamist fighters.
Earlier this month Somalia put in place a new administration set up in a United Nations-backed process. It is hoped this will give the war-torn country its first effective central government since president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, unleashing cycles of bloody conflict that have defied countless peace initiatives.
Somalia: Govt Forces Kill Top Al-Shabaab Commander
By Henry Mukasa, 25 November 2012
New Vision, Kampala
The Somalia National Army (SNA), backed by its intelligence and the Police force, have conducted a raid on Sokohola and killed the overall al-Shabaab commander for Gupta, Sokohola, and Huluwai areas.
The al-Shabaab fighters put up a fight, but their commander, who residents identified as Guludupu, was killed on spot, while 16 militants were captured and an assortment of ammunition recovered in the Thursday night raid.
They included 16 submachine guns and four pistols. Sokohola, a Mogadishu suburb, has been a concentration area of al-Shabaab cells, terrorising civilians around Mogadishu, the Somalia capital city.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) - Uganda contingent commander, Brig. Michael Ondoga commended the Somali security forces for "excellence in their operations."
"The Somali national security forces are doing a commendable job in the pacification process of Somalia. As AMISOM, we are committed in giving them support to restore calm in Somalia. We congratulate them in this successful operation which will bring more peace in Mogadishu," Ondoga said.
Brig. Ondoga, according to a statement issued by the Ugandan contingent spokesperson, Maj. Henry Obbo, pointed out that SNA successful raid on al-Shaban was a manifestation of the ever improving capability of the Somali forces.
Ondoga, who is in-charge of Sector One AMISOM operations, added that he was confident that one day, the Somalis themselves will be able to take full charge of their own security.
The SNA operation comes three days after Ugandan and Somali forces seized 11 high explosive bombs meant for terrorism from Sokohola.
The twin swoop on Sokohola by AU and Somali forces, in two months, brings the tally of arms seized to over 30 explosives, 16 submachine guns and 14 pistols.
al-shabaab militants, who are allied to the global terror organisation Al-Qaeda, have been on the back foot since August last year when they were dislodged from Mogadishu.
They have since lost a string of towns, where they had sought safe haven and charged exorbitant illegal taxes to fund their operations.
Somalia has seen anarchy since 1991, when former dictator Siad Barre was deposed. The Horn of Africa nation has seen bloodletting with extremists and terrorists taking the country at intervals and instilling terror among Somalis.
The AU deployed AMISOM in 2007, with Uganda taking the key role. It was followed by Burundi, Sierra Leone and Djibouti.
The peacekeepers were mandated by the UN Security Council to defend the transition government and key installations like the State House, Parliament and the Sea Port.
AMISOM was further empowered to monitor the security situation in areas of operation and to provide technical assistance to stabilisation efforts, including helping to build capabilities of the Somali security forces.