Al Shabaab terror group claims to have killed nearly 200 Burundian soldiers under AU Transitional Mission in Somalia on Tuesday, May 3, and capturing others in El-Baraf pre-dawn attack.
The militants shared pictures of the alleged dead soldiers but they often claim more casualties than there is. Some local media said 173 soldiers had been confirmed dead, while AFP said 30 had been killed and 22 injured. Burundi National Defence Forces on Wednesday said 10 soldiers were killed, five were missing and 25 injured .There are at least 5,000 Burundian troops in Somalia under AU mandate.
“There was heavy fighting and casualties inflicted on both sides, but we don’t have more details about this incident so far,” local military commander Mohamed Ali told AFP by phone.
“They launched the attack with a car bomb blast before a heavy exchange of gunfire broke out,” he added.
ATMIS succeed Amisom after the expiry of its mandate.
It took over from the African Union Mission in Somalia in April 2022 in line with the decision of the Peace and Security Council during its 1068th meeting on March 8 2022.
ATMIS is now mandated to support the Somalia government in the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan and to transfer security responsibilities to the country’s security forces and institutions.
Even so, the federal government, AU and UN confirmed but confirmed the attack.
AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat in a statement on Tuesday condemned “in the strongest terms the terrorist attack perpetrated by Al Shabaab militants against an African Union Transition Mission in Somalia base in Middle Shabele region, south west of Mogadishu”.
“The Chairperson pays tribute to the Burundian peacekeepers who lost their lives helping to bring peace and stability to Somalia. The Chairperson extends his sincere condolences to the bereaved families, the Government and the people of the Republic of Burundi, and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded as a result of the attack,” the statement said.
I spoke to President @GeneralNeva today to pay my respects for the sacrifice of the @ATMIS_Somalia peacekeepers who lost their lives in the line of duty following a terrorist attack in #Somalia today.They will never be forgotten.We pray for the recovery of their wounded comrades.
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) May 3, 2022
Faki, however, said the attack will not lessen the determination of ATMIS forces, instead saying the AU will continue support the Somali government and people in their pursuit to achieve sustainable peace and security.
“The Chairperson further calls on the international community to increase support to the Somali security services and the ATMIS mission commensurate with the security challenges at hand,” the statement added.
Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye said there are no words strong enough to condemn the terrorist attack against the Burundian contingent of ATMIS.
“I join with all of Africa which has just lost sons and daughters fallen on the field of honor to console the hard-hit families,”he said on Twitter.
The Somalia Foreign ministry, while confirming the attack, commended the Somalia army and ATMIS forces for “quickly repulsing” the terrorist attackers. It further said it stands in solidarity with ATMIS against the attack “aimed at undermining Somalia’s peace, stability and sovereignty”.
The ministry also called for the international community to increase and provide higher-end capability support to Somalia and ATMIS forces to fight against terror.
The UN also condemned the attack, and extended condolences for those killed and wished a speedy recovery for the injured.
“[UN] stands firmly with ATMIS and Somali security forces in their efforts to improve Somalia’s security,” UN in Somalia said in a tweet.
In September 2019, some 12 Burundian soldiers under AMISOM were killed and six injured when a military convoy was ambushed by Al Shabaab north of Mogadishu as it returned from a security mission from Jowhar.
This story was updated to include the numbers given by Burundi Defence Forces