Al-Shabaab increases terror attacks across Somalia, UN envoy says
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The UN has yet again affirmed that Al-Shabaab has increased attacks in Somalia, something which still raises concerns about the future of the Horn of Africa nation, which has continued to bear the brunt of the group's menace in recent years.
Al-Shabaab first came into place in 2007 and since then, it has continued to wreak havoc and mayhem among innocent civilians and security forces, with government officials also being targeted. Over 5,000 people have been killed by the group across East Africa.
In a statement before the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] on Monday evening, the UN special envoy to Somalia James Swan said the group increased attacks from August 2020 to the beginning of 2021, targeting various strategic points including military bases and various hospitality industries.
"Al-Shabaab continues to pose the primary threat to the security of the country. Al-Shabaab has increased its operational tempo since August 2020, and the beginning of 2021 has seen a new peak in the number of attacks, including more Person-Borne and Vehicle-Borne IEDs, targeting government officials and key figures in Somali society," Swan said in a statement.
But the envoy noted security operations have continued to bore fruits especially in Lower Shabelle, where the group has been enjoying support for a couple of years. The military has managed to liberate several strategic towns across the region, with the US precision strikes also eliminating terrorists in Middle Jubba.
"Important military gains were made by Somali Security Forces backed by AMISOM in the Lower Shabelle region in early 2019 and again in early 2020, and these are now being consolidated to enable further progress against Al Shabaab in other areas," Swan noted. "UNSOS has remained steadfast in delivery of support to AMISOM and eligible Somali forces throughout this period, despite the complications of the COVID pandemic."
Over the weekend, the SNA chief Odawa Yusuf Rageh said 50 terrorists were killed including Moalim Bukhari, the group's intelligence chief in Lower Shabelle, and Sheikh Hasan Ganeey, the commander of the ops in the southern Somalia region, a further manifestation that the group is losing grip across the country.
Earlier this year, over 700 US Africa Command troops were withdrawn from Somalia following an order by former President Donald Trump. It's not clear if Joe Biden will reinstate them but it's understood that they were redeployed elsewhere in the East Africa region.