Al-Shabaab says a Kenyan behind suicide attack on Somalia military base

A military spokesman for al-Shabab issues a statement south of Mogadishu. Feisal Omar/Reuters

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A Kenyan national played a key role in the repulsed Al-Shabaab attack at a Somali military base, the militants have revealed, in what could trigger questions over the counterterrorism strategy which is seemingly shaky.

In a statement published by the militants, Al-Shabaab named Abdirahman Zeynudin as the commander who coordinated the attack at the Amaara military base in the Mudug region within the state of Galmadug on August 24, 2020, in an attack that left several soldiers dead.

Abdirahman Zeynudin was the suicide bomber who drove the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device [VBIED] which targeted dozens of the Somali National Army [SNA] troops who are stationed in the fragile region within Somalia.

The Al-Shabaab militants said Abdirahman Zeynudin was born in Mombasa, Kenya, a coastal town that has often faced militant attacks for almost a decade now. It's not clear how he sneaked to Somalia for training or even when he managed to do so.

Government forces managed to repel the attack following a reinforcement from the US Africa Command, who activated an airstrike. The militants suffered a lot of casualties, with the SNA estimating that close to 60 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed.

Although the US Africa Command didn't confirm the number of casualties, it pledged support to the Somali National Army. Unfortunately, the Al-Shabaab militants retook the town, two days after the SNA triumph.

In a statement, Al-Shabaab also confirmed killing several soldiers besides confiscating armored personnel cars belonging to the Somali National Army. The militants announced that they defeated the government troops.

Kenya has been putting mechanisms to reduce violent extremism by promoting defections and repatriation of fighters. Hundreds of fighters have since defected following persuasion by the Republic of Kenya.

It's not just Abdirahman Zeynudin who has been linked with Al-Shabaab attacks. Early this year, the militants also confirmed that two Kenyans were among the team which crossed over from Somalia and attacked the US military base in Manda Bay, Lamu in Kenya in 2020.


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