By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
The Ethiopian government on Wednesday said its troops had thwarted an early morning raid by Al Shabaab militants, indicating the danger of a resurging terror gang that has recently targeted the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis).
Addis Ababa said the camp was manned by troops under the Ethiopian National Defence Forces but not part of the Atmis.
Late last month, Al Shabaab had raided Atmis camp manned by Ugandan forces killing 54 soldiers.
The camp is based Dollo, town in Somalia near the border with Ethiopia where Al Shabaab ambushed.
“The Ethiopian National Defence Forces stopped the attackers in their tracks before they could wreak havoc,” the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a brief statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“The ENDF neutralised suicide bombers and destroyed weapons to be used by the terrorist group,” the statement added, reflecting a near identical tactic used on Ethiopian forces two weeks ago.
According to Somali National News agency (Sonna), the attack, which involved two vehicles loaded with explosives, was foiled by the Ethiopian security forces stationed at the base. Al Shabaab had earlier claimed the attack which they boasted, without evidence, of having been successful, according to its propaganda wing.
The Ethiopian government statement didn’t say if the attack caused any casualties on the Ethiopian soldiers.
However, a senior member of Somalia National Army, who confirmed the incident, said the first vehicle, exploded at the entrance of the base, causing significant damage and injuring four soldiers.
“Due to the swift and decisive actions of the Ethiopian forces, the second vehicle, was neutralised before reaching the base, averting any further harm,” the source added.
The latest attack comes few days after Al Shabaab carried out similar attack on an African Union base in Somalia using Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices and suicide bombers which killed 54 Ugandan soldiers.
The deadly attack has been recorded as one of the worst attacks by Al Shabaab against peacekeepers in recent years, only paled by a similar attack on Kenya Defence Forces, then part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), the precursor of Atmis, camp in El Adde, Jubbaland in January 2016. The actual number of casualties in that incident was never given.
The Ethiopian forces stationed in Somalia are part of a larger regional mobilisation force deployed to engage in the second phase of Somalia-led military offensives against Al Shabaab.
The Somali National Army will lead the second phase of the offensive against Al Shabaab but forces from neighbouring countries of Kenya and Djibouti will also take part in the operation, according to a memorandum agreed on by frontline states back in February this year.
(Source: The East African Daily)