Al-Shabab militants carried out a brazen attack on a Somali military base in the Geriley area of the Gedo region on Tuesday evening, sparking intense fighting between the group and Somali security forces.
The Geriley base was one of seven bases handed over to Somali security forces by the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) last week.
The federal government, with support from Jubbaland Dervish forces, engaged in fierce fighting with the militants, resulting in casualties of an unknown number.
Although Jubbaland security minister Yusuf Hussein Osman Dhumal confirmed that the Somali army still maintains control of the Geriley base in the Gedo region, he did not disclose any information regarding casualties.
The seven Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) – Xaaji Cali, Miirtugo, Cadale, Albao, Gherille, Aljazeera 1, and Marka Ayub – now have Somali Security Forces (SSF) personnel in charge. The last two, Gherille FOB in the Gedo region of Jubaland State, was under the responsibility of ATMIS Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), while Aljazeera outside Mogadishu was the responsibility of AMISOM’s Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
The withdrawal of ATMIS troops from Somalia has sparked concern from Jubbaland Vice President Mohamud Sayid Adan, who described it as an ill-conceived plan.
In an interview with VOA Somali, the Vice President stated that al-Shabaab militants could have seized a significant opportunity with the handover of military bases from ATMIS to the Somali army. He emphasized the need to halt the withdrawal, highlighting that it had been discussed numerous times within the forum. Adan also claimed that the previous government was behind the withdrawal plan.
The concerns expressed by the Jubbaland Vice President come two days after Kenyan’s Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Francis Ogolla’s visit to Kismayo, the administrative capital of Jubbland State.
This visit marked Gen Ogolla’s first trip to Somalia as the CDF.
The visit also comes ahead of the planned withdrawal of regional troops from Somalia amid increased attacks by the al-Shabaab militants. The security situation in Somalia remains precarious, and the country continues to struggle with terrorist attacks, political instability, and weak governance.