Mogadishu/Kampala: Reports reveal at least 200 members of the al-Shabaab militant group have been killed in airstrikes by Ugandan security forces. The operation was carried out in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle province and is the largest operation against al-Shabaab in a single day. The move comes as the United States withdraws troops from Somalia and thus draws much attention.
Lieutenant Colonel Deo Akiki, the Deputy Spokesman for the Ugandan military, informed about the Somali operation. Lt. Col. Deo Akiki said, ‘More than 189 al-Shabab militants have been killed in attacks by our security forces. The weapons cache and equipment at the al-Shabaab base were also destroyed’. An independent statement from the Ugandan Defense Ministry said that the operation was launched during an al-Shabaab meeting in which several terrorists had been wounded.
Lower Shabelle Governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur Sidi has also confirmed the action. Military units took action along with airstrikes on Friday night and Saturday morning. The Ugandan defence forces used attack helicopters during the attacks. Nouri Sidi said the African Union Mission led the operation in Somalia. Besides, he noted the operation was carried out in and around the Janale district.
It is the second major operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia in the past year and the largest in a single day. Earlier, in March 2020, the Somali army had attacked Janale and killed more than 140 terrorists. The Somalian province of Lower Shabelle along with capital Mogadishu are believed to be al-Shabaab strongholds. The group’s influence has not weakened despite repeated operations from the Somali military, the African Union and the United States.
On the contrary, al-Shabaab has been trying to establish bases in Kenya and Uganda in the last few years. Al-Shabaab terrorists, over the previous two years, have been planning to launch a direct terrorist attack on the United States. The US agencies have arrested two terrorists plotting such attacks, and legal action is underway.
Last year, the United States decided to withdraw its troops from Somalia amid al-Shabaab’s growing influence. Accordingly, the withdrawal began from the previous month, and the soldiers in Somalia are being deployed to other bases in Africa. Moreover, Turkey has set up a military base in Somalia and has taken the initiative to train the Somali army.