Arba’o, Elasha Biyaha, South West State, Somalia –
The Somali National Army (SNA) successfully repelled an al-Shabaab attack on the Arba’o military base in Lower Shabelle. The Forward Operating Base (FOB) was one of the six military instalments recently handed over to SNA by the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), specifically the Ugandan contingent.
The attack was launched on Wednesday night at approximately 11:00 pm. The sound of the intense gunfire could be heard from a distance. The Somali Digest interviewed a resident from a nearby Elasha Biyaha village, who confirmed that the battle had indeed occurred and lasted for about an hour. “We heard the intense sound of heavy weaponry,” stated the person we reached out to.
ATMIS issued a brief statement yesterday, commending SNA for the successful defence and recalling that Arba’o FOB “was handed over to the Somali Security Forces on June 27 as part of the successful phase one of drawdown.”
Al-Shabaab recently seized Giriley
On July 13, al-Shabaab successfully seized control of another recently transferred FOB. The Geriley military base in southern Somalia fell to the hands of militants not long after its handover to Jubaland Security Forces (JSF) from the Kenyan contingent of ATMIS. The Somali Digest was one of the first to report on the incident.
Jubaland troops manning the base engaged in a firefight with the al-Shabaab militants, having to retreat towards the Kenyan border. Subsequently, Kenyan helicopters were dispatched to Giriley from Dhobley, a town at the Kenya-Somalia border. They confirmed the camp was under fire and engaged a few al-Shabaab fighters at the base. Al-Shabaab’s media production later released photos from inside the base after they captured it.
ATMIS withdrawal from Somalia
In late June, ATMIS completed the handover of several FOBs to the Somali military as part of the initial phase of their plan to scale down troop numbers in Somalia. Their objective was to reduce their forces by up to 2,000 by the end of June. They are set to proceed with an additional reduction of 3,000 troops in September. The UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670 require the mission to relinquish security responsibilities in designated areas to the Somali security forces.