Al Shabaab Ambush on AU Peacekeepers in Southern Somalia Kills 18

BAIDOA, Somalia — The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab fighters have launched an ambush attack on an Ethiopian soldiers’ convoy serving with the African Union peace forces in Somalia, said residents and an AMISOM spokesman on Monday.

Local resident Osman Hassan said dozens of armed Al Shabaab members attacked a convoy carrying Ethiopian troops on Monday in Goof-Gaduud, a remote area close to Baido city in the Bay region of southwestern Somalia.

”Today (Monday, August 22) there was an ambush on an AMISOM military convoy that led to a heavy gun battle that raged on for more than four hours. Residents were in state of fear and shock,” said Hassan, who lives where the attack took place.

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) spokesman Col. Joe Kibet has confirmed the attack on the AU troops’ convoy, saying that at least 8 Al Shabaab members were killed in the gunfight.

Kibet added that three soldiers from AU peacekeeping force and Somali National Army (SNA) have sustained minor injuries in the Al Shabaab attack at Goof-Gaduud village, 30 kilometers north of Baidoa.

For their part, Al Shabaab commanders have claimed through their media outlets that they have killed approximately 10 Ethiopian and Somali soldiers, and destroyed military trucks during the ambush and combat.

Independent reports indicated that both sides have suffered huge losses in the attack followed by the fierce gun battle, which forced dozens of residents to flee their houses in the Goof-Gaduud region.

On Sunday, Al Shabaab had carried out a pair of suicide attacks on a local government building and marketplace in Galkayo city in central Somalia, 750 kilometers (466 miles) north of Mogadishu, killing at least 23 people, who were mostly civilians.

Baidoa lies some 250 kilometers (155 miles) North-West of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The city has been controlled by Somali forces and backed by Ethiopian soldiers of AMISOM since February of 2012.

AMISOM is made up of 22,000 peacekeepers from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti who are deployed in the horn of African since 2007 to support the weak government in Mogadishu in the fight against Al Shabaab militants.

Omar Nor

Omar Nor is senior reporter in the field covering for ArmedPolitics from the vast East Africa region, focusing on  political issues including scenarios of conflict, with a special focus on Al-Shabaab. Follow Omar on Twitter at @Omaar_nor