Somali Government Says at Least 80 al-Shabab Militants Killed in Attacks

Washington — The Somali government said Thursday its soldiers — backed by international partners and local clan militias — killed about 80 al-Shabab militants and wounded dozens more in three operations in the country’s southern and central regions. 

A government official indicated the attacks stopped a terrorist operation. “The militants were planning spectacular attacks to coincide with an important date in the Ramadan calendar, the 17th day of the fast,” said the government’s deputy information minister, Abdirahman Yusuf Adala. 

There was no independent confirmation of the death toll, reported by Adala and Somalia’s defense ministry, and no immediate comment from al-Shabab through its spokesperson or websites. 

The Ministry of Information said the Somali National Army carried out a coordinated series of operations across the regional states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Southwest. 

A press release says the operations were carried out with the support of international security partners. Countries helping the Somali government include the United States, Turkey and members of the African Union. 

Government officials said the first military operation was conducted in an area near the city of Harardhere, in Mudug region. 

In an interview with VOA Somali, Harardhere District Commissioner Mohamed Yusuf Kulmiye said that al-Shabab members were gathering at the site of the operation called Farah Adan Sands, when the Somali National Army launched a surprise attack. 

“We received an intelligence tip that they were remobilizing and plotting an attack on the town, and we immediately responded to neutralize the threat. We killed more than 40 militants and lost 10 of our soldiers in the battle,” said Kulmiye. 

The Somali defense ministry says the second operation took place in Fiqaay forest, 15 kilometers from the Daru Nicma area in the Middle Shabelle region. 

A statement from the defense ministry says that more than 35 members of al-Shabab were killed in this area, and that battlewagons and other militant vehicles were destroyed. 

In the third operation, the Somali government said its military targeted areas under the Wajid district in the Bakool region, in southwest Somalia, killing six members of al-Shabab. 

The 24-hour military campaign against al-Shabab came on the heels of a deadly attack by the militants on a Somali military base in the Lower Shabelle region, in the country’s southwest. 

Security officials, who asked for anonymity, told VOA at least 17 government soldiers were killed during the attack on the Busley base, which was briefly occupied by the attackers. 

Armed fighters from al-Shabab battled their way to the facility using suicide car bombs, one Somali military official told the Reuters news agency. He declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

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