African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) handed over the Raga El (Raga Ceel, Raaga Ceelle) forward operating base (FOB) to the Somali National Army (SNA) on Wednesday. The handover is part of an ongoing troop redeployment strategy in the fight against terrorism, particularly al-Shabaab.
Raga El, Middle Shabelle region, Hirshabelle, SOMALIA.
The ATMIS Chief Logistics Officer, Col. Jean Bosco Sibondavyi, presided over the handover ceremony. Col. Sibondavyi acknowledged that the handover was initially scheduled for the previous month. However, it was delayed due to the Federal Government of Somalia’s request for a technical pause in the drawdown process, which the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) eventually agreed to.
Col. Sibondavyi clarified that the handover of Raga El did not violate the technical pause, as it occurred in consensus with the SNA. He said they decided due to operational needs in Sector 5. The handing over of this FOB will reinforce other forward operating bases. The ATMIS’ 68th Battalion troops, who stayed at Raga El, will relocate to other areas within Hirshabelle to participate in joint military operations and support the SNA in holding liberated territories to ensure security and stability.
Under Burundian continget
The Raga El base in the Middle Shabelle region had been under the control of the Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF), who oversee security in ATMIS’ Sector 5 Area of Responsibility. The commander of the 68th Battalion of the ATMIS’ Burundian troops, Lt. Col. Jean Baptise Nahishakiye, formally transferred the base to the Somalis.
The incoming SNA base commander, Lt. Idow Ali Mohamed, thanked the Burundian troops for their collaborative efforts. Those included conducting joint offensives against al-Shabaab, stabilizing liberated territories, and maintaining security in the region. Lt. Idow pledged to continue their work by preserving peace, ensuring security, and safeguarding the human rights of local residents.
First base since the drawdown request
The handover of the Raga El base marks a significant step in the ongoing transition process. It demonstrates the SNA’s commitment to taking over responsibility from ATMIS. This is the first FOB that the Somali army received after the government requested the 3-month pause of ATMIS drawdown.