A senior Somali military commander was killed in a powerful roadside explosion near the capital, Mogadishu, Tuesday just two months after his several other senior officers were killed in the same area by an improvised explosive device (IED), military officials confirmed to VOA Somali.
Colonel Abdisalam Sheikh Aden died after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device shortly after leaving a military base in Dhanane, on the southern outskirts of Mogadishu.
Aden was deputy commander of the 12th April Division, one of the biggest military sectors in Somalia. A second officer, Colonel Abdirahman Jimale Muse, who was in charge of the finances for the first battalion of Somali army, was also killed in Tuesday’s explosion.
The death of the two officers came exactly two months after two senior military commanders including Aden’s predecessor were killed by IED in the same vicinity. The explosion on Dec. 6 killed the commander of the 12th April Division, General Omar Aden Dhabad “Omar Dhere,” and his deputy general, Abdi Ali Jamame.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Tuesday’s attack came as the U.S. military increased airstrikes against al-Shabab. The U.S. military has reported carrying out two new strikes against the group. The first strike took place on Feb. 3 in the Gandarshe area, not far from the location of Tuesday’s IED attack, 30 kilometers south of Mogadishu. The second strike occurred in the vicinity of Leego town in Lower Shabelle region, about 120 kilometers west of Mogadishu.
U.S. Africa Command did not report any casualties suffered by al-Shabab but said no civilians were either killed or injured.
“These precision airstrikes support Somali partners’ ongoing efforts to reduce al-Shabab safe havens, degrade the terrorists’ infrastructure, and destroy terrorist equipment,” said the statement by Africa Command.
The latest two strikes bring the total number of airstrikes against al-Shabab this year to 11. Last year the United States carried out 47 strikes, all of them against al-Shabab.