Bosaso, Puntland State of Somalia — Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Harakat al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for up to 61 dead after storming a remote military base in the town of Af-Urur, located in the Galgala mountain region in northeastern Somalia. In what Puntland State officials are calling the deadliest attack in years, heavily armed al-Shabaab fighters numbering in the hundreds encircled the remote camp and initiated the bloody fray with several suicide bombers hitting the main gates with thunderclap surprise. The stunned Puntland forces were completely out-numbered and as the al-Shabaab fighters swarmed into the compound killing the soldiers at close range.
Two unidentified Puntland senior army commanders were also reported to have been killed in the assault, those that survived the first wave of the assault were forced to flee with many of the soldiers still missing and feared captured by al-Shabaab.
— Garowe Online (@radiogarowe) June 8, 2017
The carnage was not just contained to the remote Puntland military base as violence was apparently also inflicted upon the residents of the town of Af-Urur itself as locals are reporting grisly scenes of al-Shabaab militants beheading several civilians the guerrilla force came across. One witness told a local reporter from the Associated Press that women were among those beheaded along with several hostages also being reportedly taken by the al-Shabaab terror group as well.
Puntland military spokesperson, Major Mohamed Abdi, claimed in a statement that Puntland army reinforcements arrived some time after the initial assault and during a rolling gun battle with al-Shabaab drove close to 100 al-Shabaab fighters from the base. “The situation is grim over there. This attack was an unexpected one,” Major Abdi said, “It was heavy fighting. We lost 20 soldiers and 14 of our military cars were burnt. We have now retaken the town.” A hospital in the nearby town of Armo is said to be treating close to 40 wounded soldiers from the attack.
However, al-Shabaab’s militant spokesperson, Abdiasis Abu Musab refuted Major Abdi’s claim in a statement of his own stating that “They have not retaken the town, but we just left it peacefully after killing 61 soldiers and capturing 16 military cars.” Musab also claimed that the extremists made off with scores of heavy to light weapons along with a sizable cache of ammunition stored in the base.
The raid on the Af-Urur military base may have been a plot to exact revenge on the government of Puntland after they handed death sentences to five al-Shabaab suicide bombers that were captured on April 26th while attempting to drive an explosive-laden truck into the port city of Bosaso. Attacks are comparatively rare in Puntland, where the security forces are relatively regularly paid and receive substantial U.S. assistance.
Feature image courtesy of: Garowe Online