Heavy casualties have been reported in two ambushes by al-Shabaab terrorists on Ethiopian peacekeepers and subsequent armed clashes in the southwestern region of Somalia yesterday.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab attacked a military convoy of Ethiopian peacekeepers from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) on their way to the Wajid district in the Bakool region on Sunday morning.
While the second convoy of soldiers was on its way to Huddur, the provincial capital of Bakool, official sources confirmed the two attacks and subsequent counterattacks on the terrorists to Anadolu over the phone.
A security officer in Huddur told Anadolu on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media on Sunday evening that Ethiopian troops, backed by Somali soldiers, killed over 55 al-Shabaab terrorists in a counterattack.
However, he declined to say how many Ethiopian soldiers were killed or injured in the two ambushes, but he did say there were heavy casualties on both sides.
Regional officials in the Bakool region told Anadolu that the terrorists attacked the convoy of Ethiopian troops shortly after they crossed the border into Somalia earlier Sunday morning.
“We don’t know how many Ethiopian soldiers were killed in this massive ambush, but it has been confirmed to me that several soldiers were killed,” an officer said.
Residents of the area told Anadolu over the phone that they heard heavy weaponry and gunfire between the terrorists and the soldiers.
Later, the al-Shabaab terrorist group claimed on its propaganda social media post that it had killed 167 Ethiopian soldiers and captured several others alive.
However, such information on its propaganda website is unreliable, as the terrorist group has a history of exaggerating casualties.
Ethiopia soldiers operate under the command of the ATMIS, but Addis Ababa has a sizable contingent of non-AU troops in the Horn of Africa country.
The latest attacks come just hours after the Somali government said it killed at least 30 al-Shabab terrorists in an operation led by the national army and backed by clan militias in the central state of Galmudug.
Earlier on Friday, al-Shabaab terrorists carried out a suicide bombing on the Galmudug state president. However, two soldiers were killed, and two members of Somalia’s Federal Parliament were injured.
Last Monday, Mohamed Mohamud, a member of the Galmudug state parliament, was killed in a bomb attack in the region.
The Horn of Africa country has been plagued by insecurity for years, with the main threats emanating from al-Shabaab and the Daesh/ISIS terror groups.
Since 2007, the al-Shabaab terror group has been fighting the Somali government and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a multidimensional mission authorized by the African Union and mandated by the United Nations Security Council.
The terror group has increased attacks since Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected for a second term last year, declared an “all-out war” on al-Shabaab.