Al-Shabaab targets Ethiopian military base in Somalia

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DOLOW, Somalia - Al-Shabaab militants have reignited their retaliatory attacks against security forces in Somalia, with the group claiming responsibility for yet another attack in the Gedo region, targeting Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] serving within Dolow town near the common border of the two countries.

A contingent of Ethiopian troops is stationed in Dolow and has been critical in boosting security along the common border. The Ethiopian military has been directly involved in the Al-Shabaab war since 2007 when the group first struck, leading to the profiling of the soldiers who are predominantly in Western Somalia.

Eyewitnesses said two successive explosions in the vicinity of a military base manned by Ethiopian troops were heard on Wednesday morning, but the damage could not be immediately reported due to intensive fighting which erupted between the two groups which have been targeting each other for a while.

The explosions reportedly occurred after 10 am local time, Wednesday. The base is about 2-3km east of the town. What caused casualties is not yet clear, and there has been no word from the Ethiopian military, which is after all known for making operations against Al-Shabaab or fatalities on their side a "top secret".

In a statement shortly afterward, Al-Shabaab claimed that it sent two suicide bombers to target the Ethiopian military base near Doolow, terming the operation "successful". If confirmed by African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], this will be the second attack against peacemakers within a fortnight.

On May 26, the militants attacked Ugandan military base in Bulo Marer Forward Operating Base, killing several soldiers in the process. According to President Yoweri Museveni, at least 54 soldiers died in the incident but Al-Shabaab claims fatalities on Ugandan troops could exceed 137.

While the president blames commanders for asking soldiers to run away, he maintains that the Al-Shabaab will "regret their actions". Already, two commanders are set to face court martial for abdicating their duties and so far, four soldiers who had been surviving by drinking urine have been rescued.

Ethiopia agreed to dispatch non-ATMIS troops to Somalia ahead of the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab, and the team is set to operate under the command of the Somali National Army within the next three months. Al-Shabaab has been targeting military bases in the country for the last several years in Somalia.

GAROWE ONLINE

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