Al-Shabaab attempts to disrupt forthcoming elections in Somalia

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The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants have intensified attacks in the country amid a deepened electoral and political crisis that delayed the schedule of the vote.

The militants have briefly taken control of Barire military base, reports indicate, following fierce fighting with the Somali National Army [SNA] on Saturday morning, which left dozens of militants and the soldiers dead.

The fighters, however, didn’t manage to take control of Awdheele town in Lower Shabelle after they were repulsed by the Gor-Gor troops, who flushed them away during the multiple attacks that lasted for several hours on Saturday morning, sources say.

The region is a known stronghold for the militants but lately, they have lost grip in several villages to the Somali National Army, the African Union Mission Forces in Somalia, and other allied troops, who have been working to liberate the country.

Barire, sources said, is now under full control of the Al-Shabaab militants, after they managed to flush out the Somali National Army troops who were manning the area. It’s not clear how many people died in the process from either side of the teams.

But at Lafole, a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device [VBIED] targeted troops that had been dispatched from Mogadishu for reinforcement, with the army boss Gen Odowa Yusuf Rage said to have been part of the convoy which was ambushed.

A source confirmed to Garowe Online that SNA chief General Odowa Yusuf Rage was traveling in the convoy of the reinforcement troops hit by the explosion at Lafoole area while rushing to the bases in Barire and Awdhegle that came under Al-Shabab attack. The army is yet to confirm.

Somali military officials in the Lower Shabelle region reported that 100 militants were killed in bloody fighting in Awdhegle. Al-Shabaab on its side claimed victory over the battle, saying its fighters overrun army bases, killed 47 soldiers, seized battlewagons and weapons.

The commander of the Somali infantry National Army, Gen. Bihi, who spoke about the early morning clashes between FGS troops and Al Shabab in the Lower Shabelle region, said that many members of the group were killed and 10 prisoners were captured alive.

Shortly after the attacks in Lower Shabelle, a bomber has detonated himself at a restaurant in Mogadishu’s Shangani area on Saturday evening, killing at least 6 people, mostly innocent youths.