Al-Shabab continues its reign of terror through a move for power. The extremist group recently launched an attack on a Somali military base in Awdheegle, an area slightly Southwest of Mogadishu in the Lower Shabelle region. Al-Shabab used gunfire and a series of car bombs to carry out the attack, leaving soldiers and members of Al-Shabab dead. Initial reports from Al-Shabab reported 50 Somali soldier deaths, yet new reports state that the death toll of Somali soldiers was three. Soldiers and extremists, however, were not the only fatalities of this act of terror. Amidst the gunfire, people were killed in their own homes as a result of stray bullets and the rampant violence of Al-Shabab. The Somali government has confirmed that those present on the base were able to dismantle the majority of the attack before it was taken the intended levels of violence. Al-Shabab made a move for power by attacking a base so close to the internationally recognized capital; thankfully, this one was stopped in the early stages. This attack comes shortly after the Somali government had obtained control over most of the Awdheegle.
Somali military officer, Captain Hussein Ali told Reuters News, “The military base is surrounded with heavy sandbags. The two-car bombs were fired at and so exploded outside the base”. Before accurate body counts were made available, Captain Hussein Ali went on to say, “There are casualties from al-Shabab and government forces but we have no exact figure. Al-Shabab cut off some of the private telecommunications.” Shortly after the attacks, Aden Abdullahi, an elder in the region, told Aljazeera, “We heard two huge blasts and gunfire from the direction of the Somali military base. I saw several soldiers running away from the base to escape but we cannot know how many were killed.” In claiming responsibility for the attack, the military spokesman for Al-Shabab, Abdiasis Abu Musab, claimed, “Two mujahideen driving two car bombs, one after the other, entered the Somali base in Awdhigle district today. We killed 50 government soldiers and burnt their vehicles”. In another interview with Reuters, Halima Farah (a local store owner) stated, “We believe both the militants and government suffered great losses of lives today but we cannot see their casualties. Stray bullets killed people in their houses”. In fact, Halima Farah was one of the people who had a family member tragically killed by said stray bullets.
This attack by Al-Shabab was likely to show the world and the Somali government that they are around and are capable of conducting acts of terror in search of power. In the last three years, Al-Shabab has been much less active than they had been for the majority of the previous decade. Given the fact that they grossly misreported the casualties and relative “success” of the attack, it is clear that Al-Shabab was making a move to put themselves back at the top. These are the kinds of attacks which are too often overlooked by the rest of the world. In reality, these attacks must be treated just as seriously as more deadly ones in order to stop the incoming barrage of terror and senseless violence. Somalia and the rest of the world cannot sit idly by and let Al-Shabab feel as though they can continue with attacks of any kind.
Al-Shabab is an Islamist extremist group, operating primarily out of Africa and some of the Southwestern regions of the Middle-East. The group started independently but has since become a smaller subsidiary of Al-Qaeda. They are used by Al-Qaeda in order to spread violence and power throughout Africa and regions, in which Al-Qaeda itself has a smaller and weaker presence. With that being said, Al-Shabab has been losing its power hold in Somalia and other parts of Africa since 2011, despite violent efforts to maintain power, when the internationally recognized government began rapidly taking back control of key Al-Shabab holds in the country. Of course, it is undeniable that they are still powerful and continue to spread violence and terror throughout the already extremely unstable region.
Moving forward, it will be key for Somalia to have more stable and well-equipped governments assisting them in the prevention of such attacks. This is not to say that outside military force must be put into place; rather, that intelligence, data gathering, and logistical prediction used by much of the international community would be of great benefit to the Somali government (and many other governments in Africa) in being able to predict and prevent these kinds of attacks before they even happen.