A senior Somali minister and the head of ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) are insistent both will continue collaborating in joint military operations in the ongoing battle against al-Shabaab in the East African country.
The top ATMIS man Mohamed El-Amine Souef and Daud Aweis, Somali Minister of Information, Culture and Technology, told a media briefing there will also be assistance and co-operation in peacebuilding and reconciliation.
The pair made known “significant gains” against al-Shabaab in Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Southwest, Jubaland and Mogadishu states.
“The successes clearly demonstrate close collaboration between our forces and local residents. In general the number of al-Shabaab Kharijites killed in the country in the last seven days is 323,” Aweis said at the late January media briefing.
The Somali government and ATMIS note collaboration between the local population and the Somali Security Forces helped liberate locations including El Dher, Harar Dhere and Gal’ad in Galmudug State.
“Al-Shabaab terrorists have controlled these areas for more than 15 years, but that has now come to an end,” Aweis said.
To counter Al-Shabaab propaganda establishment of a Government Communication Office (GCO) will align all communications against the terrorists and raise awareness about what he called “their evil deeds”.
Souef reiterated ATMIS continued support to the Somali Security Forces in ongoing military operations against al-Shabaab.
“ATMIS supports ongoing operations with logistics. We use our air assets to provide air support and provide medical evacuation at the frontline,” Souef said.
He saluted the political will demonstrated by national leaders led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is directly involved in the ongoing Somali-led operations against al-Shabaab and regularly visits the frontline.
The senior officials welcomed the groundswell of opposition against al-Shabaab and the support the Somali National Army (SNA) receives from local communities. This, they maintain, assisted with liberation of territories under al-Shabaab control.
“Somalis feel their number one enemy is Al-Shabaab. That is why the SNA is getting a lot of support from people on the ground and federal member states.
“President Hassan Sheikh said a top priority is national reconciliation and we commend him for his actions in Baidoa. This is a strong message from the President to local and international communities,” Souef said.
ATMIS is providing security for the ongoing reconciliation talks in Southwest’s capital, Baidoa. The talks involve officials from the Federal and State government, clan elders and members of civil society.
The Somali government and ATMIS further resolved to strengthen collaboration in military training and intelligence sharing to ensure a successful transition process.
- A Tell report