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Al-Shabaab recaptures Mudug region towns as Somali government forces withdraw

Monday March 11, 2024


Dhusamareb (HOL) - Al-Shabaab militants have retaken several areas in the Mudug region after government and allied forces withdrew, including the strategic town of Ba'adweyn. The recent retreats mark a significant setback for government forces, who had previously suffered numerous casualties in these areas.

Residents of Ba'adweyn reported early today that they observed military forces evacuating the town, taking their equipment with them. This move follows the withdrawal from the nearby areas of Aad, Amara, and Shabellow, which have since fallen under Al-Shabaab control.

Sources from southern Mudug confirmed that both government troops and local civilians had abandoned Ba'adweyn. The evacuated forces are reportedly regrouped in Laas Ga'amey, a location not far from their previous positions.

The departure of government forces from strategic locations in the Mudug region raises concerns about the resurgence of Al-Shabaab and the stability of the area.

According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the period from January 20 to February 23, 2024, witnessed over 250 incidents of political violence in Somalia, resulting in at least 470 fatalities. The Mudug region experienced the highest toll, with at least 144 deaths attributed to the ongoing conflict, underscoring the severity of the situation.

The Somali government's offensive against al-Shabaab, initiated in August 2022, aimed at reclaiming control from the militants, particularly in central regions such as Hirshabelle and Galmudug. Initially, the operation saw significant territorial gains, supported by clan militias and international partners. However, the momentum has waned due to logistical challenges, the difficulty of holding captured territories, and al-Shabaab's persistent resilience.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's temporary relocation to Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug State, in late Summer marked a strategic attempt to revitalize the campaign and rally local support. The second phase of the offensive focused on the regions of Galgaduud and Middle Shabelle, with Mudug becoming a pivotal battlefield.

However, setbacks in Mudug, including a devastating al-Shabaab attack on a Somali National Army base in Cowsweyne, have underscored the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by government forces. These recent losses have inflicted significant casualties, stymied the offensive's momentum, and raised questions about the government's capacity to secure and hold territory.



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