AMISOM, SNA launch operation ” Indian ocean” against Al-Shabaab

Posted: August 30, 2014 in World News
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Somali and African Union forces have launched a long-awaited fresh offensive against Al-Shabaab Islamist fighters aimed to capture remaining ports from the extremists, army and government officials
said Saturday.

“Operation Indian Ocean started late last night…. The enemy is fleeing and the forces are making successful advances so far,” said Abdukadir Mohamed Nur, the governor of southern Somalia’s
Lower Shabelle region.

Witnesses reported hearing the booms of heavy shelling, as well as seeing convoys of tanks and
armoured vehicles heading towards the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Bulomarer, some 160 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu.
The Al-Qaeda-linked militant group are still a powerful and dangerous force but have lost a string of towns to the 22,000-strong African Union
Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

AMISOM and Somali government troops were also seen on roads towards Barawe, the last major port
held by the hardline gunmen.

“We are heading towards Bulomarer town. The operations will not stop until the Al-Qaeda militants are eliminated,” Mr Nur added.

In January 2013, French commandos carried out a botched raid on Bulomarer in a bid to free a secret agent held hostage.
The bid failed and resulted in the death of two French soldiers and the hostage.

“We are hearing heavy shelling,” said Ali Mohamed, who lives close to the Bulomarer, adding that
fighting close to the town. “I saw an AMISOM military convoy including
several tanks this morning headed towards Bulomarer and Barawe,” said Hussein Mumin, another local resident.

The southern port of Barawe is now one of the few major settlements under their control, and is vital
to Al- Shabaab finances, as the main hub of a multi-million dollar charcoal trade.

The Al-Shabaab are fighting to topple Somalia’s internationally-backed government, and regularly
launch attacks against state targets, as well as in neighbouring countries that contribute to the AU
force.

AFP

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