By Yahya and Dalmar:
Giriley, Gedo, Somalia –
Al-Shabaab militants have reportedly captured the Giriley base located in the Gedo region of Jubaland. The base was recently transferred to Jubaland Security Forces (JSF) from the Kenyan army contingent serving under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
The firefight over the strategically positioned forward operating base (FOB) near Kenya’s border erupted today morning at 11:30. According to preliminary reports obtained by the Somali Digest from a reliable source within ATMIS, at least eight people were killed, including six civilians and two members of Jubaland forces.
Jubaland troops manning the base and those securing the Giriley centre engaged in a firefight with the al-Shabaab militants, allegedly having to retreat towards the Kenyan border. Subsequently, Kenyan helicopters were dispatched to Giriley from Dhobley, a town located at the Kenya-Somalia border. They confirmed the camp was under fire and engaged a few al-Shabaab fighters at the base.
The source within ATMIS further described to the Somali Digest that al-Shabaab militants forcefully assembled the locals and addressed them at the Giriley centre.
Al-Shabaab released a statement
A press release issued by al-Shabaab claimed a complete takeover of the Giriley area, including the base where the Jubaland security troops were stationed.
“The Mujahideen forces have successfully seized control of the Giriley area in the Islamic Province of Gedo on Thursday, following their defeat of the apostate militia [al-Shabaab’s pejorative term for the Somali Security Forces]. The Mujahideen launched a multi-directional attack on the apostate militia in the area, resulting in casualties and injuries among the enemy. By the grace of Allah, the Mujahideen ultimately gained control over the Giriley area.”
The attack underscores concerns over ATMIS withdrawal
This attack deals a significant blow to those who had assured that the withdrawal of ATMIS would not compromise Somalia’s security and stability. Al-Shabaab’s capture of a base that ATMIS recently handed back to the Somali Security Forces highlights their long-existed shortcomings.
It also validates the concerns raised by critics of what they called “hasty and ill-conceived” ATMIS withdrawal. Moreover, experts caution that incidents similar to today’s events in Giriley might become a recurring reality moving forward.