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Al-Shabaab strikes military base on Somalia-Ethiopia border

July 31, 2022

The New Arab Staff & Agencies
29 July, 2022

The area has witnessed over fifteen years of conflict. [HASSAN ALI ELMI/AFP via Getty Images]

Al-Shabaab fighters attacked a military base on the Somalia-Ethiopia border on Friday, triggering fierce fighting that caused an unknown number of casualties, security officials said.

It was the latest strike in the area by the Somalia-based jihadists in less than two weeks, raising concerns about the stability of the border and a possible new strategy by the Al-Qaeda-linked group.

Mortar shells hit the base in Ato, sparking a gun battle that involved the Ethiopian military and so-called Liyu special police from the country’s Somali region, the sources said.

“We are getting information that armed confrontation broke out between Al-Shabaab and the Liyu police this morning around Ato,” Mohamud Adan, a local security official in the nearby town of El-Berde, told AFP by phone.

“The terrorists fired rounds of mortar shells before the direct confrontation started,” he added.

“The forces have managed to repel the desperate terrorist attackers and there are some casualties even though we don’t have the details.”

Madker Mursal, a security commander in the Ato area, said the militants used mortar and artillery fire in the attack that lasted almost two hours, and that Ethiopian forces responded, with backup from combat helicopters.

Al-Shabaab claimed the attack in a brief statement, saying its fighters had overrun the base and killed over 100 Ethiopian police.

There was no immediate response to an AFP request for comment from the authorities in the Somali region of Ethiopia.

However the official Ethiopian News Agency quoted Major General Tesfaye Ayalew of the National Defence Force as saying Al-Shabaab had tried to infiltrate across the border but was repulsed and had suffered heavy losses.

‘Security buffer zone’ 

On Saturday, the authorities in Somalia said they had killed more than 100 militants who had made a cross-border incursion last week.

Somali regional president Mustafe Omer said this week the authorities planned to create a “security buffer zone” outside Ethiopian territory to counter such attacks “because we cannot wait for the enemy to come to us here”, according to footage on Twitter.

Al-Shabaab has waged a bloody insurrection against Somalia’s fragile federal government for 15 years and remains a potent force despite an African Union operation against the group.

Its fighters have been ousted from Somalia’s main urban areas, including the capital Mogadishu in 2011, but continue to wage attacks on military, government and civilian targets.

The group’s cross-border attacks follow a power shift in the troubled Horn of Africa nation, with the election in May of new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

In separate incident in southern Somalia on Friday, a local government official and his son were killed in a roadside bomb blast, police said.

The justice minister for South West state, Sheikh Hassan Ibrahim, was leaving a mosque in the city of Baidoa after Friday prayers “when the explosion ripped through his car”, local police officer Hussein Yerow said.


  1. Buffer zone may not be a bad idea if it has the full backing the Somalia government and the inhabitants of the area. But I can see a fierce opposition brewing to that idea. One of those who fiercely oppose this plan is allegedly the only expert native both Eastern Ethiopia and Somalia. He even called the leader of the Somali region, H.E. Mustafe’s idea ‘infentile’. I really don’t know what ‘infentile’ means. This person is also an expert in the ‘Oromo Highlands’. He is 100% sure that Al-Shabaab will be coming back again and again until it takes over the entire Eastern Oromia highlands. We, all of us, should believe what this expert is telling us. In fact I am gonna urge my Ittu clan to leave their current domiciles and start running for their lives. This expert must have insider information from Al-Shabaab itself about its upcoming battle plan. I would like to see him come to this esteemed website and share his expertise with all of us. He just lectured my Oromos on what to do and what US must do as a policy in the Horn of Africa. He implies that USA should stop sending critical financial aid to ‘Ethiopia’. I think this man should replace Mustafe pronto and every Oromo must go to his palace to be educated first class. I will be the first one to be a Somali Abbo redux! My question is how come Abiy did not summon this peerless Somali and Oromo expert when he came here in 2019 and take him along? He should have been offered the leadership of both the Somali and Oromia regions. That was a big mistake and missed opportunity. This is a man who was sought out by US congressman just a few weeks after he arrived here as a refugee and working at a convenient store 41 years ago. Who was that congressman? I don’t know. He may be dead and gone. But the expert is not at liberty to tell us who that ‘big official’ was because of privacy. This unmatched expert must have been as such even before he left the Horn of Africa as a refugee. He was born, raised and educated in Jigjige. He must have been tortured by Mengistu. There is no better person to run the entire Somali region from Kismayu to Awash and from Baidoa to Moyale. Hey Abiy; how come you did not know about this number one expert and offered him the entire region? You erred on that one by a lot but it is not too late. Fire Mustafe and Shimelis and get this guy to run the entire region pronto! From what he told us Oromos recently, there is enough justification to fire the entire Committee on Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs of both houses in the US congress and replace them with this numero uno foreign policy expert on the Horn of Africa. According to this top expert these two committees did not know diddly squat about the Horn of Africa and have been messing it up since the dawn of history. Also this expert is ordering you to stop giving any financial aid to Ethiopia.

  2. The other new lesson I learned from this number one expert was that Mussolini and fascist cabals were laying the ground to liberate my Oromos and give them a Republic of Oromia just before their plan was sabotaged by Emperor Haile and the British in 1941. The fascist of those days were at the cusp of declaring a new Republic of Oromia. Having an Oromo heritage himself I don’t understand why Emperor Haile stood on the way. I can’t fathom why sabotaged the almost done deal. The expert did not tell us though who Mussolini picked as the leader/leaders of that republic. My Oromia could have been a republic in 1941. In fact it was already there right after the black shirts marched into Addis/Finfine in 1936. Them rascals British and Haile! They sabotaged the establishment of The Republic of Oromia under fascist Mussolini’s auspices and constitution. Who said those fascists and Nazis were bad people when they were people liberators. I have been lied to and so badly bamboozled folks and I’m mad now!!!

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