OE Watch Commentary: While the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab has been forced from most cities, it still claims a significance presence in many rural areas and some towns. That point was driven home loudly and bloodily when, as the accompanying article from the Somali News Service Shabelle News describes, the terrorists attacked an African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) base in Bulamerer, about 110 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu. The ensuing battle between the Ugandan soldiers who man the base and the heavily armed militants who stormed it left many dead. Al-Shabbab claims 14 of its fighters and 59 Ugandan soldiers died in the attack, but Uganda disputes this figure, claiming the death of 36 militants and citing eight of its own soldiers having been killed.
Reports from various news outlets describe the attack on Bulamerer, also spelled Bulo Marer and Bula Marer, as beginning with two trucks laden with explosives blowing up. This was followed by approximately 100 militants attempting to storm the base, though they were reportedly repelled. Almost simultaneously, two other bases – Golweyn and Barawe – in the same region were attacked, which the news outlets presume was to prevent those outposts from sending reinforcements to help the Ugandan contingent at Bulamerer.
The deputy governor of the region has complained that al-Shabaab has not only been present, but also active in the region. He further stated that both AMISOM and Somali military forces have not launched a major offensive against them for several years. At the time this commentary was written it was uncertain how AMISOM or the Somali government will respond to this accusation.
To those who have followed the news coming out of Somalia for several years the town of Bulamerer may sound familiar. It was the site in 2013 of a failed attempt by the French military to free a hostage, Denis Allex, being held by al-Shabaab. While there are conflicting claims, it is generally believed that Allex was killed during, or shortly after, the operation. A French captain was also killed during the rescue attempt. Five years later the town is once again in the news, related to deadly actions by a still-present al-Shabaab. End OE Watch Commentary (Feldman)
Since withdrawing from Mogadishu in 2011, the al-Qaeda-linked group has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns. But it still retains a strong presence in regions outside the capital.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, a spokesman for al-Shabab said 14 of the group’s fighters and 59 AMISOM troops were killed in the incident.
Al Shabaab militants battled for hours on Sunday with African Union troops after exploding a car bomb outside their base, Somali police, military and the militants said.