Afmadow, Jubaland, Somalia –
Yesterday, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), U.S. Africa Command, and local Jubaland forces conducted extensive joint operations targeting al-Shabaab militants in the Afmadow district in the Lower Juba region of Jubaland. A significant number of al-Shabaab fighters were allegedly killed during these operations.
According to a press release from the Government of Somalia, the Somali National Army (SNA) and Jubaland forces, with support from “international partners”, successfully neutralized 40 al-Shabaab fighters during these operations.
“The operation, carried out in three different waves, specifically targeted an area where the Khawarij [referring to al-Shabaab] had assembled,” stated the Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism of Somalia.
U.S. Africa command also informed about the joint operation. “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted three collective self-defense airstrikes overnight in a remote area near Afmadow, approximately 105 kilometers north of Kismayo, against al-Shabaab terrorists.”
The statement further reads that according to an initial assessment, “the U.S. airstrike killed 10 al-Shabaab terrorists,” and “no civilians were injured or killed.”
Al-Shabaab’s media also reported the incident, describing a fierce battle that occurred on Saturday night between their forces and the “Apostates” (a term used by al-Shabaab to refer to the SNA and Jubaland forces). Al-Shabaab acknowledged the involvement of U.S. airstrikes, noting that the Somali forces received support from the “US Crusaders”. This term is commonly used by Islamic extremists, particularly al-Qaeda, to refer to U.S. military operations in the region.
Al-Shabaab claimed to have inflicted casualties on the government forces, stating that three soldiers were killed and six others injured. These figures could not be independently verified. Al-Shabaab is known for concealing its losses.
Former al-Shabaab’s stronghold
Afmadow is a city in southern Somalia with a population of approximately 40,000. The town used to be a strategic centre for al-Shabaab, from where the group coordinated its military operations. It served as a gateway to many other areas of the region. A joint military operation called “Operation Linda Nchi” liberated the city from the Islamists in 2011.
Al-Shabaab is the largest and most active al-Qaeda affiliate in the world. The group controlled a vast area of Somalia before being pushed back by a government counteroffensive, which started last year and is about to enter its next phase.
The U.S. often launches airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia. In January, approximately 30 fighters were killed in an airstrike in Gal’ad District, about 260 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu.