Runirgod, one of the districts of the Middle Shabelle Region in southern Somalia, 240 kilometers north of the capital, Mogadishu, is a vital district in the battle waged by the Somali government forces against Al-Shabaab.
Runirgod District is one of the important areas liberated from Al-Shabaab during the military operation launched by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at the beginning of his rule. It is also a strategic area for the military operations carried out by the Somali army against terrorist elements, as it is the link between the states of Galmudug and Hirshabelle, which are the closest states to the capital, Mogadishu, and it is also the nucleus of the areas inhabited by clan militants who participate in military operations alongside the Somali army forces. The area is therefore a target for retaliatory attacks by members of the Al-Shabaab movement.
After the government forces took control of Runirgod, that dominance gave superiority on the ground and the management of the rules of engagement to the government forces in exchange for heavy losses for the terrorist movement, which leads to the faster liberation of the remaining areas in Somalia.
In March, the terrorist movement launched an armed attack on the army’s military base in Runirgod.
In another context, Al-Shabaab revealed that 51 Somali soldiers were killed, eight military vehicles were burned, and another military vehicle was seized from the military base during the attack, which it described as “sweeping”.
According to a statement by the Somali Ministry of Information, the first phase of the military operation led to the killing of 3,000 terrorists, the wounding of 3,700, and the liberation of 70 areas from the grip of Al-Shabaab.
The statement added that the second phase of the military operation will be launched soon after all preparations guaranteeing the success of the operation have been completed, noting that the security forces have intensified their preemptive operations to thwart attacks by Al-Shabaab militants during the coming period.
Al-Shabaab carried out a number of terrorist operations during the first quarter of 2023. In January, it targeted army bases and government headquarters, most notably the attack on the Hawadley base in Middle Shabelle, which resulted in the killing of five soldiers. Al-Shabaab also attacked government headquarters in the city of Mahas, resulting in more than 70 deaths and injuries, and it attacked an army base in the Galcad, killing dozens of Somali soldiers.
In March, Al-Shabaab carried out an attack on the Janay Abdalla base in the Lower Juba Region on March 7, killing government soldiers.
Al-Shabaab is working to follow a new strategy, which is to seek reconciliation with the Somali clans, and to stop targeting Somali army bases with the aim of calming the situation.
The results of the first phase of the military operation launched in Somalia revealed that the combat capabilities of Al-Shabaab are not able to repel the violent attacks launched by the regular forces, as well as the forces achieving gains in direct confrontations with terrorist elements, which called for policies to change the status quo, where the movement resorted to the strategy of indirect confrontation to maintain its chances of controlling the capital.
In August 2023, the military operations were launched by President Mohamud against Al-Shabaab, and direct confrontations varied between the army forces and the al-Qaeda-affiliated movement, which resulted in the regular forces being able to liberate 70 areas from the grip of terrorist elements.
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