Special Forces of Somali regional state and a coalition of other regional and federal security forces have conducted an all-out counter attack to purge Al-shabab fighters that entered Ethiopia’s borders on Friday. The regional government deployed hundreds of Special Forces to conduct the operation.
“A number of Al-shabab fighters entered the Ethiopian border, after they conducted an attack at a time nobody expected. They first engaged with Somali Special Forces. And heavy casualties occurred on both sides. But we are clearing them out,” said an official in the regional government, who spoke to The Reporter requesting to remain anonymity since the federal government is also involved and information is to be disseminated from the center.
“We have also captured their fighters, and the operation will continue until they are cleared out from the area,” added the official.
The terror group first attacked two border towns in Somalia’s side on July 20, 2022, on the same day Somali regional state officials convened to evaluate its security forces performance.
After the first clash at Yeed and Aato towns in Ethio-Somalia border, the militants reportedly killed twenty Ethiopian forces including three civilians. The group lost 63 of its own.
The al-Qaeda linked group tried to enter Ethiopia through Afder zone in southern part of Somali region.
Apart from a strong presence by Ethiopian forces in the border areas, Ethiopia also deployed close to 4,000 troops in Somalia under the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a reconfigured version of the former AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Ethiopian troops maintain a stronghold in Baidowa.
However insiders question why Al-shabab is attacking Ethiopia at this moment.
“The attack is intended to divert the attention of Ethiopia. Al-shabab is conducting the attacks in coordination with the TPLF and other insurgents in Ethiopia,” said a security expert who focuses on Al-shabab.
Other insiders also link the rising Al-shabab attacks with the instability in Ethiopia. The restructuring of AMISOM and controversies shadowing the continuity of ATMIS, is also contributing to Al-shabab’s resurrection.
Over the past few months, Al-shabab’s attacks have evolved from suicide bombings to attacking military bases in Somalia, including an AU military base. Experts stress that the group is gaining momentum as Horn of Africa countries are occupied with domestic conflicts and the EU, the largest financer of AMISOM/ATMIS, is backtracking.
A few weeks ago, the newly elected Somalia President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said negotiations should be considered with Al-shabab, a rare gesture, which is becoming almost a shadow state.
However, the militant group in a statement said it fights to establish an Islamic state in the Horn.
Source: The Reporter