In a significant strategic advancement, the Somali National Army (SNA) and the local Mawa’awisley militia successfully liberated the town of El Garas, a former stronghold of al-Shabaab in Galgaduud. Sadly, two local politicians died when their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) earlier planted by al-Shabaab.
El Garas, Galgaduud region, Galmudug, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
The Somali National News Agency (SONNA) reported the liberation, stating, “Somali National Army backed by People’s Defense Forces [Ma’awisley] have successfully liberated El Garas city [of] Galgaduud region, from al-Shabaab terrorists. The security forces are now clearing the city of any remaining threats. This is a huge victory for Somalia in the fight against terror.”
However, amid the celebrations of this significant victory, tragedy struck as two Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Galmudug State fell victim to an IED planted by al-Shabaab. The MPs were among the first officials to enter the city after its capture. Their vehicle triggered off an IED, resulting in a devastating explosion.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and confirmed the deaths of the two prominent politicians. The militants identified the victims as Mohamed Mohamud and Abdullahi Ibrahim Shaiye. Moreover, the Islamist group said the blast also killed one of their security personnel.
Holding the territory is imperative
Some areas near Dhuusamareeb, the regional capital, including El Garas or El Lahelay, had been under al-Shabaab’s control for the past 15 years. The extremist group ruled over them with an iron fist. Therefore, winning back the hearts and minds of the local population will now be a critical task for the Somali government.
To maintain control over these areas, the government must meet the pressing needs of the local communities. These include the establishment of essential institutions, such as schools. The government must convince the residents that it offers a better alternative to al-Shabaab and fully commits to the residents’ well-being and security.