Friday, February 25, 2011

AMISOM captures al-Shabaab bases

The New Vision - Uganda's Leading Website
Thursday, 24th February, 2011

By Joshua Kato 
AMISOM forces supporting Transitional Government Forces (TFG) in Mogadishu have captured a key sector of Mogadishu, which was being used by the al-Shabaab fighters to smuggle weapons and personnel near AMISOM bases.

In the fighting on Wednesday, AMISOM forces are also reported to have captured the prized former Defence Ministry building which al-Shabaab has been using as a major base.

The position was captured at the height renewed fighting in Mogadishu on Wednesday, AMISOM forces are also reported to have captured the prized former defence ministry building, which al-Shabaab has been using as a major base together with a milk factory.

The fighting is centred around the districts of Hodan and Howlwadag areas, a few hundred metres from the notorious Bakara market, one of al-Shabaab’s main strongholds.

Two AMISOM soldiers and 12 rebels died in the fighting, which flared up on February 19.

According to AMISOM spokesman, Maj. Bahoku Barigye, the expertly dug tunnels are over a kilometre long.

Barigye said the capture of this area would help the forces consolidate their gains in Mogadishu.

He told reporters in Mogadishu that after this week’s fighting, AMISOM and TFG forces had moved to within 500 metres of Bakara market.

Yesterday, the Burundian government confirmed that six peacekeepers were killed and 12 others were injured on Wednesday during an offensive against Islamist insurgents.

The peacekeepers were part of the group supporting Somali government troops who seized three militant bases on the city’s industrial road that leads to Bakara market.

Burundi has deployed four battalions to the anarchic Horn of Africa nation. Ugandans make up the majority of the 8,000-strong force.

In previous battles, the militants dug tunnels under buildings and roads in a bid to maneuver over AMISOM and TFG positions.

“Sometimes you only know that they are there when they start firing at our positions,” said one of the AMISOM soldiers.

At the Juba I and II fronts, the militants dug tunnels around the interior ministry building and several other buildings. AMISOM counters this by firing heavily in the tunnels.

“We constantly fire into their positions to stop them from taking aim,” said Lt. Col. Francis Chemonges.

Chemonges was in charge of AMISOM Battle Group Five, which was in charge of the key frontline areas.

AMISOM has snipers strategically placed in tall buildings around the city for this purpose.

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