Wednesday, February 17, 2016
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somali troops have repelled a large scale attack by the Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabab group on the agricultural town of Afgoye, near the Somali capital Mogadishu, officials said Tuesday.
Residents in the town said they heard blasts and gunfire as dozens of armed militants attacked checkpoints manned by Somali troops and military bases before troops pushed them back.
It was the largest attack by Al Shabab to recapture the town, one of Somalia’s abundant agricultural areas they lost to the allied forces in 2011, with officials said that suicide bombers were involved in the attack.
The attackers have reportedly occupied parts of the town during the overnight attack before Somali forces have counter-attacked and retaken the full control of the town.
However, Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Muscab, a military spokesman for Al Shabab has claimed his fighters captured the town ‘fully’ and killed a ‘number’ of soldiers during the attack, a claim dismissed by Somali military officials.
The latest assault shows that the militants group is retaining capability to move across the country as parts of its deadly insurgency aimed at recapturing the areas it lost to the allied forces in the past few years.
Despite the challenges, Somalia’s prime minister has vowed in September last year that his government would push militants out of the areas still under their control in 2016, a year Somalia proposed to hold presidential elections.