The Al-Qaeda-created Al Shabaab fighters waged a surprise attack on AMISOM and Galmudug army positions in Dhuusamareeb, the administrative capital of the Galmudug Federal State of Somalia.
It is the first time Al Shabaab openly engages the army or AMISOM in the area since the federal state, supported by Federal forces, took over the security of the region two years back.
According to eyewitnesses, Al Shabaab pinned down the peacekeepers and a nearby Galmudug army position at the town airport for about 15 minutes with heavy fire before suddenly withdrawing again.
The objective of the raid is not yet clear although AMISOM and admin sources in the town claim that the militias withdrew only when they met with heavier return fire.
Other sources say that it is part of a new tactic on the part of the fighters to gauge ground strength ahead of possible, more serious engagements with state armies and peacekeepers. The Islamists attacked Buuloberde of Hirsjhabelle state position the evening before in a similar, short-lived raid.
On another front, Al Shabaab followed up the Buuloberde raid and assassination in Beledweyne on Thursday with the abduction of 50 herders in the region on Friday to, obviously, keep up the pressure on authorities.
The abduction, observers explain, was to, primarily, discourage shepherds and nomads from swelling vigilante ranks that had been keeping Al Shabaab fighters at bay in the absence of peacekeepers and state forces in the area. This latest abduction happened in the Jujule and Ganu-ribad of Mahas district of Hiiraan – an area which the vigilantes, known locally as ˆMa’awisley, could be found.