Mogadishu (Allbanaadir Media) – The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Saturday at the General Gordon Military Base in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.
The assault targeted a training mission involving Emirati and Bahraini troops, resulting in the tragic deaths of four Emirati soldiers and a Bahraini military officer.
Details surrounding the attack remain limited, with uncertainties persisting about additional casualties. Nevertheless, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud expressed condolences to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the loss of its troops.
The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency confirmed the deaths of three Emirati soldiers and a Bahraini officer in what it described as a “terrorist act.” Tragically, a fourth Emirati soldier succumbed to injuries while being transported back to the Emirates.
The solemn return of the fallen soldiers was marked by a poignant scene at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, where three flag-draped caskets were received with honor.
Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat, conveyed condolences to the bereaved families and wished a swift recovery for the wounded.
He underscored the UAE’s unwavering commitment to combating extremism and terrorism, emphasizing that no treacherous act would deter their mission of promoting security and safety.
The Bahraini military also acknowledged the loss of one of its officers, a major, in a statement carried by the state-run Bahrain News Agency.
Al-Shabab, which translates to “the youth” in Arabic, is a Sunni Islamic extremist group that emerged in Somalia amidst the chaos following the country’s 1991 civil war. Initially, the group seized control of Mogadishu.
However, it was later pushed back by an African Union-led force supported by the United States and other nations. Despite these setbacks, al-Shabab has persisted as a significant threat, aiming to overthrow the Western-backed Somali government.
Beyond Somalia’s borders, al-Shabab has conducted attacks in neighboring Kenya, targeting the African Union force stationed in Somalia, which includes Kenyan troops.
The United States has also been actively involved, launching airstrikes against militants in Somalia, with over 300 strikes recorded, primarily during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The U.S. Embassy in Somalia condemned the recent attack, describing it as cowardly and extending condolences to the victims’ families. The incident underscores the ongoing efforts to stabilize Somalia and counter-terrorism in the region.
Gulf states, including the UAE, are vested in Somalia’s stability. Somalia became a focal point during the Qatar diplomatic crisis, with the UAE and other nations boycotting Qatar over political differences.
Tensions between Mogadishu and the UAE escalated when Somali troops seized millions of dollars of Emirati cash from a jet, leading to a suspension of the UAE’s troop training program in Somalia.
In recent years, the UAE has expanded its presence in East Africa, investing in ports, including Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region.
Securing Somalia aligns with the UAE’s broader security concerns in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, particularly amid the resurgence of Somali piracy and ongoing regional conflicts.
In 2019, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack that killed an individual working for Dubai’s P&O Ports, highlighting the group’s capability to strike beyond Somalia’s borders.
The recent attack serves as a stark reminder of the persistent threat posed by al-Shabab and the ongoing challenges faced in stabilizing Somalia and combating terrorism in the region.