Al-Shabaab ambushes Ethiopian troops in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Al-Shabaab militants ambushed Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] stationed in Somalia, officials confirmed, in the latest onslaught which comes at the time the Horn of Africa nation is preoccupied with the war against the extremists in the country.
According to officials, the incident took place in Bakool, Southwestern part of the country, just days before the commencement of the second phase of operations against the group. The ambush, officials said, targeted two convoys of the Ethiopian military.
The attack, officials said, targeted the convoys traveling between Yeed and Wajid towns in the country as they moved from El Barde. Ethiopian troops have bases in Wajid and Huddur, some of the towns which are frequently under Al-Shabaab attacks.
At the time of the attack, sources said, local troops were accompanying the troops. Abdullahi Omar, the mayor of Huddur, told VOA that fighting started after the Al-Shabaab ambush in the region.
“The fighting started after the anti-peace elements attacked the Ethiopian and Somali military convoy moving towards Wajid and Huddur, starting off their attack with an explosion,” Mohamud said. “The troops have repulsed, and the situation is calm.”
Mohamud claimed the militants lost as many as 50 fighters. A senior government official confirmed the incident in confidence, noting that the militants targeted the troops who were clearing supply routes in the region following the Al-Shabaab blockade.
He said when that convoy left the town of Yeed on Saturday, it spent the night near the village of Booco, about 40 kilometers north of Wajid.
“At dawn, the convoy resumed its journey towards Wajid but was ambushed by al-Shabab,” he said.“We heard two vehicles were hit by explosions.” According to him, the fighting lasted for several hours before the militants were overpowered.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Somalia, Mukhtar Mohamed Ware told VOA he saw al-Shabab's claim on social media and described it as “propaganda.”
“They may try [to attack Ethiopian forces] but they cannot even fire for more than 10 minutes against Ethiopian defenses’ forces,” he said. “This is a professional army; it’s very well equipped, very well organized, it’s always hitting hard when it comes to al-Shabab, so this is a mere propaganda; it’s not more than a propaganda against Ethiopia and against Ethiopian defense forces.”