Al-Shabaab photo release verifies details of Leego attack
Less than a week after Shabaab’s attack on the African Union base in Leego in southern Somalia, the al Qaeda branch has released several photos of the event that appear to verify some of the group’s claims.
The photos show the attack on the military base, as well as Shabaab fighters killing dozens of Burundian troops. Many of the photos released by the jihadist group are too graphic to be published. However, other photos show a number of captured weapons and vehicles, as well as Burundian military uniforms. Three photos shows a jihadist destroying a makeshift church used by the Burundian troops. The jihadist group also said that it will release a separate statement soon containing the identities of the killed soldiers.
The attack on the military base is said to have left around 70 Burundian troops dead out of the 100 that were stationed there. A suicide attack allowed an assault team to penetrate the base. A statement released by Shabaab on the radio station Al Andalus, which is affiliated with the group, said that its forces were able to capture many light and heavy weapons. Radio Al Furqan, another Shabaab-linked station, claimed that the jihadist group’s fighters also captured several vehicles and that “senior Shabaab members” gave a sermon to nearby civilians. [For more information on the attack, see LWJ report, Shabaab assaults African Union base.]
While Shabaab claimed that it captured the town of Leego and that its flag “now flies above the town,” Ethiopian troops are said to have recaptured the military base in recent days. This cannot be independently confirmed by The Long War Journal, however.
The attack was carried out by the “Sheikh Abu Zubayr Battalion,” which is named after the former emir of Shabaab who was killed in a US drone strike last year.
The Sheikh Abu Zubayr Battalion was also behind the attack on Ethiopian troops two weeks ago in southern Somalia. More than 60 Ethiopian troops are said to have been killed in that assault. Shabaab has also released several images from what it describes as the “ambush” of the Ethiopian forces. [See LWJ report Shabaab claims to kill dozens of Ethiopian troops in southern Somalia and Threat Matrix report, Shabaab releases images from the ambush of Ethiopian troops.]
Shabaab continues to be a threat in Somalia, despite being kicked out of its former strongholds of Mogadishu and Kismayo.
Photos released by Al Shabaab: