Following Shabaab’s assassination of two Somali generals south of Mogadishu in December, the al Qaeda branch claimed to have killed two Somali colonels near the same town yesterday.
“Colonel Abdisalan Sheikh Aden Kurjow, an operations commander of the 12 April Brigade from the government’s militias, and Colonel ‘Adu and several of their guards were killed and their vehicle was destroyed by an IED planted by Shabaab,” the group’s statement said on its Shahada News Telegram channel.
Somali media indicated that Kurjow and Abdirahman Jim’ale Muse (referred to as Colonel ‘Adu by Shabaab) were indeed killed by an IED near the town of Dhanaane in the Lower Shabelle region south of Mogadishu. The Somali government had not yet confirmed the deaths of the two officers.
The area in which the officers were killed is nearly the exact same spot where the two aforementioned Somali generals were assassinated last December. In that attack, the two officers and eight others were killed by an IED after coming back from the frontlines of the fight against Shabaab in the region.
The Lower Shabelle region, which sits just below Mogadishu, is a Shabaab stronghold and one of the areas where the group is most active. The US military has conducted numerous drone strikes in support of Somali forces in the region, as well as special operation raids in conjunction with Somali special operations forces.
Additionally, US Africa Command reported that a drone strike targeting Shabaab fighters in the Lower Shabelle occurred on Sunday not far from yesterday’s attack.
The 12 April Brigade is one of the main SNA units fighting Shabaab in the area. The unit has been taking part in fighting to clear the jihadists from the main road that runs between Mogadishu and Merca, the capital of the Lower Shabelle region, since last September. This role is likely the reason for Shabaab’s targeted assassinations of the unit’s leadership.
Shabaab is a constant threat to African Union, Somali, and other forces inside Somalia. Their jihadists regularly target African Union troops in southern Somalia and have taken back some territory in the process. The group continues to target and threaten SNA troops, as the Somali forces shoulder more responsibility.