Attack by Al-Shabaab on African Union Military Base Kills 54 Soldiers in Somalia

news 10-Jun-2023 Africa

54 Soldiers Killed in Attack on Military Base in Somalia

Investigators have discovered the bodies of more than 50 Ugandan military personnel who were allegedly killed in an Islamist attack by the Al-Shabaab militia on an African Union (AU) military base last week. "We have discovered the bodies of 54 soldiers, including a commander," said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday evening.

The attack occurred on May 26th at the AU base controlled by Ugandan forces, and was claimed by the Islamist Al-Shabaab militia. It is the deadliest attack since the beginning of an AU-backed military campaign against the militants, whose violence has been shaking Somalia for years.

Museveni: Officers Made a Wrong Decision

According to a Somali military commander, Shabaab fighters drove an explosives-laden vehicle into the military base at Bulamarer, 130 kilometers southwest of the capital, Mogadishu. They then engaged in a shootout with AU stationed soldiers.

Museveni blames two AU officers who made a "wrong decision" and panicked, ordering soldiers to retreat, resulting in the high number of casualties. Both men will now face trial before a military court. However, the soldiers were later able to recapture the base from "800 terrorists."

Mission Aims to Ensure Security in Somalia

The 20,000-strong AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is composed of soldiers from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Its mission is to largely stabilize the country's poor security situation by 2024, after which responsibility will be handed over to the Somali armed forces.

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and has been plagued by civil wars and Islamist uprisings for decades. President Sheikh Mohamud, in office since May 2022, is working to stabilize the country. In September, he launched a military offensive against Shabaab fighters, backed by the AMISOM mission and US air strikes. The Somali government has since regained control over several areas in the country's center.

Nevertheless, the Al-Shabaab militia, allied with the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, remains firmly entrenched in rural areas. Since 2006, the organization has sought to overthrow the government of the East African country, with the ultimate goal of establishing its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islam according to Sharia law.

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