Eight dead in Southwest Somalia following Al Shabaab ambush

Two explosions in Somalia’s southwestern town of Bardhere in the Gedo region on Wednesday has claimed the lives of at least eight people and injuring 19 0thers .

According to State Minister for Environment and Climate Change Adan Aw Hirsi, the initial blast targeted base housing the Somali National Army and Ethiopian forces as part of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). The resulting explosion hit checkpoint near the town’s airport.
“Our forces intercepted the first VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device), but, regrettably, the second was successful,” Hirsi announced via  twitter statement.
Al-Shabaab, militant group, claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Bardhere district. The group stated that one of the attacks was specifically aimed at the Ethiopian Army, with reinforcements arriving at the ADC camp where the initial strike occurred. The attack follows the recent disclosure by the Somali government of proactive airstrike near Jamame, major Al-Shabaab stronghold in the Lower Juba region. According to officials, the strike targeted group of 43 militants, primarily Aden Abdirahman Adan and his deputy, Idris Abdirahim Noor. Both individuals, who were reportedly foreign jihadists from Kenya, were allegedly planning major attack 

The Somali government has made notable progress in pushing Al-Shabaab insurgents out of much of the country’s centre. Its offensive, with the help of clan militias, has boosted morale in Somali society, creating a sense of positive momentum.

Bardhere is a strategic agricultural town about 450 kilometers south of Mogadishu. It sits near the Middle Juba region, the only area in Somalia fully controlled by al-Shabab militants.

The gains are fragile, however, and the harder part lies ahead. Expanding the offensive to southern Somalia likely will require a different model than what worked in the centre, given the divergent social dynamics and lower levels of past resistance to Al-Shabaab. Still, consolidating Mogadishu’s grip on recovered areas probably represents the biggest challenge.

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