Baidoa, South West State, Somalia –
The road between Mogadishu and Baidoa is now open; the Somali Digest has learned today morning. Trucks stuck for more than ten days are now allowed to proceed with their movement. Disturbing reports indicate that family members of al-Shabaab fighters, such as their wives and children, have been targeted in the city.
According to the Somali Digest’s sources, Baidoa’s blockade has been lifted this morning thanks to Baidoa’s business community, who negotiated a deal with al-Shabaab to let the trucks use the road.
Yesterday, the Somali government forces reportedly targeted al-Shabaab’s checkpoints in El Bashir village, located between Lego and Buur Hakaba on the Mogadishu-Baidoa road, seeking to remove the blockade. The Somali National Television (SNTV) quoted Somali National Army (SNA) “officials on the ground,” saying that the airstrikes killed 15 al-Shabaab elements “in a planned operation to clear the road.”
The statement could not be independently verified, and it should be noted that the SNA often exaggerates its battlefield successes. Nonetheless, even if the airstrikes were successful, experts say they could hardly have any effect on the siege. Even if the airstrike took out the militants blocking the road, the trucks would not proceed to the city in fear of al-Shabaab’s retaliation.
Al-Shabaab family members forced to leave
The Somali Digest has learned from sources in Baidoa that family members of al-Shabaab militants are being forced to leave the city. We were told that a family of a deceased al-Shabaab member was among those told to leave. Others allegedly face imprisonment.
Baidoa’s 10 days of siege
Baidoa, the largest city of the South West State of Somalia, was grappling with a rapidly escalating crisis as al-Shabaab militants imposed a stringent blockade that has resulted in skyrocketing food prices and threats to aid distribution, particularly affecting the region’s most vulnerable communities. Fuel prices, another critical indicator of the crisis, have doubled, reflecting the severity of the situation.
The blockade, which began ten days ago, restricted the transport of essential goods into the town, leaving many trucks laden with food and other vital supplies stranded between Wanlaweyn and Afgooye districts. The move by al-Shabaab came in the wake of the arrest of school headmasters by the Southwest Police. The militant group had invited the educators to travel to Bull-Fulaay, a location known for al-Shabaab’s judiciary activities in the Bay and Bakool regions.
It was later reported that the arrested headmasters had previously informed the ministry about their trip and obtained permission to travel outside Baidoa.