Somalia’s defense ministry says the country’s national army, supported by local clan militias, has seized control of several strategic villages from al-Shabab Islamist militants. The ministry acknowledged that several security personnel were wounded during the army’s recent operations.
Abdullahi Ali Anod, Somalia’s defense ministry spokesman who talked with reporters Saturday in the country’s capital Mogadishu, said the army, backed by locals, has captured four strategic villages from the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
The liberated villages are Gulane, Darusalam, Harga-Dhere and Mabah, located in the Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions.
Mabah is the last village in eastern Hiran that was under control of al-Shabab, according to Somali state-run news agency Sonna.
Anod said six al-Shabab fighters were killed in the middle Shabelle region, while 10 were killed during a firefight between the army and the group that took place in the Hiran region.
He acknowledged that three government soldiers were wounded during the recent operations; adding that they have liberated more than 80 kilometers from al-Shabab.
He said two of the three soldiers wounded have serious injuries.
He says the people are asking why the liberation efforts are taking so long. It is because the fighting is guerilla warfare. It is not a military war, and the army has to flush them out and clear them from the countryside, which is time consuming.
The villages are located in the epicenter of the uprising against al-Shabab, which is in Hirshabele state.
Just days ago, Somali authorities said at least 40 al-Shabab terrorists were killed, and several others wounded, in a fresh operation in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region.
The uprising began after al-Shabab attacked a convoy carrying much needed food supplies, burned the vehicles and killed upwards of 20 people, including travelers.
The group intensified its attacks after Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was elected in May of this year and announced a “total war” against the militants.
Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre last week said the security operation has killed 600 al-Shabab fighters and wounded 1,200 others in the past three months.