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Somalia And Al-Shabab: The Struggle To Defeat The Militants

 

BBC News

Somalia And Al-Shabab: The Struggle To Defeat The Militants

By Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service News

When Somalia's new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May he declared a top priority was bringing an end to the country's 15-year Islamist insurgency.

Three months later al-Shabab staged one of its most spectacular ever attacks, storming a hotel a short drive away from the presidential palace in the capital, Mogadishu.

They held it for 30 hours. Officials said more than 20 people died in the siege of the Hayat and 117 were injured.

Less than a month earlier, the group mounted an unprecedented invasion of neighbouring Ethiopia.

It was as if they were cocking a snook at the new president.

International diplomats have described the complex, coordinated attack as a "game-changer" that took at least 18 months to plan and involved an estimated 1,200 fighters.

The then-commander of US Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, said the militants penetrated 150km (93 miles) inside Ethiopia.

One reason why the group was able to stage this brazen assault was the increase in conflict in Ethiopia after years of general stability and growth.

Shortly after civil war erupted in the northern Tigray region in November 2020, a member of al-Shabab called me up. 

Full story https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-62644935

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