Al-Shabaab photo release verifies details of Somali base attack
Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia, has released a photo report detailing last month’s attack on a Somali military camp in the town of Yaaqbariweyne in the Lower Shebelle region. The jihadist group said that 15 Somali soldiers were killed, but this number cannot be confirmed by The Long War Journal.
The photos show Shabaab fighters storming the base with small arms and technicals (armored pick up trucks) and burning several tents and vehicles at the base. Several photos show dead Somali soldiers, while one shows that at least soldier was taken captive and then was likely killed. The last photos show a large amount of weapons and four vehicles taken as “spoils.”
The Sept. 18 attack, according to Somali media, began at dawn when the jihadists attacked the base from two sides. After heavy fighting, Shabaab was then able to take both the base and the Yaaqbariweyne town, according to a local official. It is unclear if the group still holds the town, but the attack occurred while Shabaab was attacking other towns in southern Somalia. On Sept 6, Shabaab said it took over Buqda in the Hiran region, while a day later it overran Kurtunwarey in the Lower Shabelle. On the same day, Shabaab reported its forces took over the town of Muuro Gaabay, which sits close to the capital of the Bakool region.
The recapturing of several towns and cities, as well as several large-scale attacks on African Union (AU) forces in Somalia, has prompted the United Kingdom to send troops to help the AU and Somali forces. Shabaab has responded to this intervention by saying “Insha’allah [God-willing], decapitated bodies will be hung in the streets.”
Shabaab continues to remain a persistent threat despite being pushed out of its major urban strongholds of Mogadishu, Kismayo, and other large cities and towns in southern and central Somalia. It still controls large rural areas in southern Somalia, and uses these safe havens to launch large-scale assaults in the country, even with a major African Union mission present. Shabaab has also increasingly been able to mount attacks across the border into neighboring Kenya.
Photos from Yaaqbariweyne: