Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia, has released a photographs detailing the aftermath of an ambush on “government militias” in central Somalia. It was released on the jihadist group’s Shahaada website.Shabaab claims that “at least six members of government militias were killed by the Harakat Shabaab al Mujahideen (Mujahideen Youth Movement, the Arabic name for Shabaab) in the outskirts of the city of Eil Buur in Galgaduud Province, central Somalia.” The group goes on to try to justify the attack by saying that the “ambush comes at a time when the government militias were trying to loot money from the people who live in the outskirts of Eil Buur.”
The photos show six dead bodies, including one image shown below. Other photos highlight the “spoils” gained in the attack, which include six AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition, and the gear from the militia members. It is unclear if the truck included in one photo was also taken from the militia.
The al Qaeda branch has been able to capture several towns in Somalia in recent months. On Sept. 18, Shabaab took over Yaaqbariweyne town, according to a local official. It is unclear if the group still holds the town, and the attack occurred while Shabaab was attacking other towns in southern Somalia. On Sept 6, Shabaab said it took over Buqda in the Hiran region, while a day later it overran Kurtunwarey in the Lower Shabelle. On the same day, Shabaab reported that its forces took over the town of Muuro Gaabay, which sits close to the capital of the Bakool region.
Shabaab continues to remain a persistent threat despite being pushed out of its major urban strongholds of Mogadishu, Kismayo, and other large cities and towns in southern and central Somalia. It still controls large rural areas in southern Somalia, and uses these safe havens to launch large-scale assaults in the country, even with a major African Union mission present. Shabaab has also increasingly been able to mount attacks across the border into neighboring Kenya. And while the Islamic State continues to make a push for the al Qaeda branch to switch allegiances to it, only a small number of fighters have actually done so and its leadership remains staunchly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri.
Photo released by Shabaab showing weapons, ammunition, and gear taken from the militia:Photo showing the dead bodies of the militiamen. Warning: Photo is graphic:Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.