The African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops have launched a massive operation to flush out Al-Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region and secure main supply routes in the area.
According to Lt Col, Israel Kaheru Bagenda, the Commanding Officer of 11 Infantry Battalion of Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), the operation will be conducted in phases by both AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) troops.
Lt Col Bagenda said the exercise was launched following information received that Al-Shabaab militants were destabilizing areas along Afgooye- Balidoogle road, Afgooye town mainly around Elasha Biyaha- Mogadishu Road and surrounding areas of Jambalulu, Baghdad and Basra.
“The purpose of today’s operation is to ensure that we wipe out the Al-Shabaab elements in these general areas, and of course as you are aware that AMISOM is here to support the Somali National security forces who are already moving ahead of us in this operation,” he said.
AMISOM and SNA troops have been conducting joint operations in various parts of the country to drive out Al-Shabaab and liberate regions under the control of the militants.
Lt Col Bagenda, who is also the Field Operations Commander, said the operation will be ongoing to ensure the main supply routes connecting the region and Mogadishu are secured to allow free movement of goods and services.
The exercise, he added, will also improve security in the adjacent areas to enable residents live in peace.
Commenting on the preparedness of the SNA to fight Al-Shabaab, Lt Col Bagenda said the soldiers were committed to securing Somalia and had played a major role in the stabilization process.
“The Somali National Security Forces, I would say they are on course. Their morale so far is so high that is why they were able to accept to move ahead of us and whatever we do is to support them,” he added.
The Field Operations Commander’s sentiments were echoed by the Spokesman of the UPDF contingent, Major Robert Kamara, who said the operations will continue until Al-Shabaab is defeated.
“We must send a clear message to Al-Shabaab wherever they are, that we cannot allow them to sneak back into Afgooye, sneak into Bal’ad, Elasha Biyaha, Lafoole, and begin to cause havoc. So, our operations today were intended to send a clear message to Al-Shabaab that wherever they are, we will be there,” Major Kamara added.
AMISOM has managed to drive out Al-Shabaab from vast swathes of the country, including key towns in Somalia. This was executed through three major military operations namely; Operation Eagle, Operation Indian Ocean and Operation Jubba Corridor. The objective of the operations were three-fold, namely, freeing cities, disrupting the terrorists’ supply routes and preventing them from collecting illegal taxes from the population.