African Union troops launch new military offensive in Somalia

Mogadishu, Somalia (PANA) – The African Union force in Somalia (AMISOM) has launched a massive operation to flush out Al-Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region and secure main supply routes in the area, a field commander said on Monday.

The latest military offensive comes in the wake of a series of deadly terror attacks by the militant, Al Shabaab, which killed more than 300 people in one of the world's worst terror attacks in history recently.

Lt Col Israel Kaheru Bagenda, the Commanding Officer of 11 Infantry Battalion of Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), said in a statement the latest military offensive will be conducted in phases by both AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) troops.

He said the exercise was launched in response to the Al-Shabaab activity in areas along Afgooye- Balidoogle road, Afgooye town mainly around Elasha Biyaha- Mogadishu Road and surrounding areas of Jambalulu, Baghdad and Basra, according to AMISOM.

“The purpose of today’s operation is to ensure that we wipe out the Al-Shabaab elements in these general areas, and of course as you are aware that AMISOM is here to support the Somali National security forces who are already moving ahead of us in this operation,” Lt Col Bagenda said.

AMISOM and SNA troops have been conducting joint operations in various parts of the country to drive out Al-Shabaab and liberate regions under the control of the militants.

Since the launch of the military operation in Somalia, AMISOM, which entered Somalia when it lacked any semblance of a government structure, has been making strong progress.

It started by cleaning the Afgooye corridor, which allowed the relief organisations to access thousands of people in need of relief assistance.

AMISOM efforts enabled the fragile Somali government to take territorial control and to spread its influence following the decampment of the militant group.

Lt Col Bagenda, who is also the Field Operations Commander, said the operation aims to stabilise the main supply routes connecting the region and Mogadishu allowing the free movement of goods and services.

Commenting on the preparedness of the SNA to fight Al-Shabaab, he said the soldiers were committed to securing Somalia and had played a major role in the stabilization process.

“The Somali National Security Forces, I would say, are on course. Their morale so far is so high that is why they were able to accept to move ahead of us and whatever we do is to support them,” he added.

The Field Operations Commander’s sentiments were echoed by the Spokesman of the UPDF contingent, Major Robert Kamara, who said the operations will continue until Al-Shabaab is defeated.

“We must send a clear message to Al-Shabaab wherever they are, that we cannot allow them to sneak back into Afgooye, sneak into Bal’ad, Elasha Biyaha, Lafoole, and begin to cause havoc. So, our operations today were intended to send a clear message to Al-Shabaab that wherever they are, we will be there,” Major Kamara added.

AMISOM has managed to drive out Al-Shabaab from vast swathes of the country, including key towns in the country.

This was executed through three major military operations namely; Operation Eagle, Operation Indian Ocean and Operation Jubba Corridor.

The objectives of the operations were three-fold, namely, freeing cities, disrupting the terrorists’ supply routes and preventing them from collecting illegal taxes from the population.
-0- PANA AO/MA 6Nov2017

06 november 2017 20:17:15

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