85 Al-Shabaab terrorists were killed Said general Biixi commander of Somali infantry

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General Biixi

Somali National Army (SNA) on Saturday confirmed more than 85 al-Shabab fighters were killed and ten others wounded in the foiled dawn attacks by the militant group on two army bases in the southern region.

Mohamed Tahlil Bihi, the SNA commander, said more than 15 others were arrested in the fighting on two bases in Awdhigle and Bariire districts in the Lower Shabelle region.

“SNA has killed over 85 al-Shabab members and captured over 15 others in Saturday’s terrorist attacks on SNA bases in Bariire and Awdhigle in Lower Shabelle region,” Bihi told the military radio.

Bihi who is in charge of SNA infantry forces said the troops repulsed the attackers who escaped with serious injuries in the nearby jungle.

“We are pursuing the militants who escaped with injuries in the nearby bushes,” Bihi said, adding that the army was now in control of the two bases and their outskirts.

Gen.Biixi: "76 ayaan ka dilnay Alshabaabkii soo weeraray Bariire iyo Awdheegle - Warkasta.com

The militant group, however, earlier claimed that its forces killed 47 government soldiers during the early Saturday attack and also seized equipment and ammunition. The group said its fighters successfully destroyed the two military bases which are used by the SNA.

Bihi denied the claim, saying there was no evidence from the militant group on the casualty figures.

Independent sources said a senior SNA commander in Bariire was among the government soldiers who were killed in simultaneous attacks where scores of others were injured.

So far, the government officials have not provided any information on casualties on the SNA side.

The group also carried out a third explosion using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices which targeted a convoy of reinforcement soldiers rushing to the two bases from Mogadishu after the dawn attack.

Witnesses said al-Shabab later fired mortars on Janale, Sabiid and Anole villages following the attacks early Saturday.

Bariire, a strategic agricultural town, was liberated by SNA and African Union joint forces from al-Shabab in May 2019 while Awdhigle was liberated from the group in August same year.

Witnesses said the army repulsed the attackers after more than an hour of fighting.

“The government forces seemed to have been alert and fought off al-Shabab fighters for nearly an hour. There were several people who were killed but I don’t know whether they were from the government or militant side,” Yusuf Aden, a resident of Awdhigle said on the phone.

The Somali and AU forces have been on major offensives against al-Shabab extremists in central and southern Somali regions, but the militants still hold swaths of territory in those regions, conducting ambushes and planting roadside bombs.