The Ethiopian government has rejected claims made by the al-Shabab group, stating that it killed 167 Ethiopian troops in an ambush attack in Somalia’s southwestern Bakool region early on Sunday.
Ethiopia’s ambassador to Somalia, Mukhtar Mohamed Waare, who spoke to the local media on Saturday, described the group’s claim as false and baseless.
“They can try to attack the Ethiopian army, but they cannot engage in a fight with the Ethiopian defence forces for even 10 minutes. This army is highly professional, well-equipped, and organized. Whenever they confront the enemy, they deliver a decisive blow. Therefore, this is nothing more than propaganda against Ethiopia and the Ethiopian defence forces,” Ambassador Waare said.
The ambassador also refuted reports suggesting that the Ethiopian troops attacked in Bakool were not part of the ATMIS mission and had entered Somalia illegally.
“We are in Somalia with the approval of the African Union and the international community, aiming to support the legitimate government of Somalia and its efforts to bring peace to this country. So, these claims by al-Shabab are nothing but propaganda,” Ambassador Mukhtar emphasized.
The ambush targeted two convoys, one travelling from the Somali town of Yeed to Wajid and the second convoy as it travelled from El Barde to Huddur. Ethiopian troops have bases in Wajid and Huddur. A Somali official said local forces were accompanying the convoy en route to Huddur from El Barde.
The mayor of Huddur, Omar Abdullahi Mohamud, said that heavy fighting erupted in the area between Ethiopian troops and the militants, resulting in the deaths of 50 militants. However, in a statement, the group claimed it killed 167 Ethiopian soldiers, destroyed military vehicles, and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition.