Somalia: U.S. attack kills 2 high-level Al-Shabaab figures

The last of the deadly terrorist group Al-Shabaab and the US counter-terrorism attacks in Somalia is yet to be heard. On 5 March 2016, US air strikes killed two senior militant officers and other fighters, the number of which was speculated to be around 150. These recent air attacks occurred in the Razo camp of Mogadishu, an Al Shabaab militant camp that is located about 120 miles north of the capital Mugadishu in Somalia.

Somalia as a country is no stranger to this kind of violence, having experienced terrorist attacks as well as US and African Union Mission forces attacks. The history of US air drone attacks in Somalia started as far back as 2001. Since then, 19 to 23 air strikes have been launched and killed over 276 people – civilians and children included – according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The US has used several kinds of aircraft in Somalia besides its drones and it has conducted strikes with jets and helicopters. It has also deployed AC -130 gunships, the deadliest of all the attacks in Somalia since the beginning of the US campaign against the dreaded Al-Qeada affiliated group and has claimed responsibility for many attacks in Kenya and Somalia.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davies said that the attack on the Raso Islamic militants’ training camp was carried out to fend off an imminent threat against the US troops and African peace keeping forces in Somalia. Manned and unmanned aircraft were used in carrying out these attacks as opposed to the initial description as “drone attacks”. He explained that they had the camp under observation for weeks and believed that there were over 200 Al-Shabaab operatives based there.

Somalia’s foreign minister also confirmed the involvement of Somalia’s government: “ Intelligence agencies had been involved in the formative stages of the attacks” and “there has to be intelligence on ground for this to happen, our intelligence has help” said Abdulsalam Omer.

The US reported that the attack hit over 150 militant fighters who were scheduled to depart the training camp after their supposed passing out ceremony. Two highly ranked officials of the militants group were also reported to have been killed in this attack and were identified as Yusuf Ali Ugas and Mohammed Mire. Yusuf Ali Ugas was identified as a regional commander, recruiter and preacher while Mohammed Mire as Al-Shabaab’s governor for Somalia’s  Hiran region and a key member of the group finance wing. The numbers of women and children were not mentioned in the casualties. There was no immediate response from the Islamic militant group to the claims that Ugas and Mire had been killed until Tuesday when a certain Abdulaziz Abu Musab refuted the claim on a telephone chat with Al- Jazeera saying: “The Americans are dreaming. We never gather that many of our fighters in one place. We know the security situation on ground. Yes, the attack happened and it happened in that location but the number they are telling the world is a lie,” added Musab.

Mohammed Mire also appeared on Thursday in the village of Buqa Qabe in the same province where the air strike took place to dismiss the claim. “It’s a lie. They said I was among those killed but I am here and doing well as you can see,” he told the crowd that had gathered to see the public execusion of a man the group accused of being a Somali government soldier. Nothing whatsoever has been heard about Yusuf Ali Ugas’s whereabouts until this minute.

Oshodi Ebenezer
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