Somalia: Al-Shabaab Seizes Another Town As Peacekeepers Withdraw
Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab seized control of another town in central Somalia after African Union peacekeepers abandoned the area.
An Ethiopian contingent from the regional force abandoned the town of Halgan on Sunday, leaving Al-Shabaab free to claim its third town in less than a month. The militant group promptly announced its victory, pouring fresh doubt on the African Union and AMISOM’s effectiveness in the country.
Fall of Halgan confirmed
Local member of parliament, Dahir Amin, later confirmed the surrender of Halgan to Al-Shabaab militants. He says the group are killing multiple residents on a daily basis:
“Each day, civilians are being beheaded over suspicion that they are government supporters,” he told Reuters. “We do not have a government that is effective enough to protect our civilians.”
It’s still not clear why the peacekeepers withdrew from Halgan. Neither officials in Ethiopia nor AMISOM have released any statement on the issue.
AMISOM falling short
The loss of Halgan is yet another sign that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is failing to contain Al-Shabaab. After largely pushing the militant group out of Somalia’s major cities and towns, the mission has been largely overpowered since the second half of 2015.
A series of small-scale attacks proved too much for peacekeeper troops in the country and Al-Shabaab has been executing smaller attacks on a regular basis ever since.
AMISOM’s problems only appear to be increasing, too, as funding cuts leave troops wondering when they’ll next get paid. Meanwhile, the organisation is in the middle of an internal probe, looking into allegations that troops killed civilians during a routine security check.
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