Al-Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb destroying houses covering an area of 400 square metres ahead of their fall in Sabiib village in Lower Shabelle region, Somali National Army has said.
As the first images of the scale of the destruction emerged, the army said the area was now under full control and called on residents who fled the Al-Shabaab onslaught to return.
SNA Land Force Commander Gen. Odowaa Raage speaking following an interaction with the locals in Sabiib said the militants destroyed the villages in the last ditch attempt as the army made way to the village.
“They loaded a minivan with explosives and detonated it here destroying houses in an area of 400 square metres,” said Raage. “They felt the threat and decided to do this.” The army man did not, however, mention possible casualties.
The army commandant appointed last month to the position said his forces will ensure ‘total liberation and elimination’ of Al-Shabaab. “This is what they did to the Somali people in their mass killing campaign; we will not sit and watch, we will eliminate them.”
Pictures from the scene show wreckage of what was once houses which made up the village which for long had been under the grip of Al-Shabaab before a much a celebrated capture early this month.
AMISOM head Francisco Madeira called the capture of Sabiib a ‘concrete’ delivery’ while AMISOM force commander Lt.Gen. Tigabu Yima Wondimhunegn said the joint offensive between SNA and AMISOM, “marked an important part of the implementation of the revised AMISOM concept of operations (CONOPS).”
Sabiib was liberated in a joint offensive April 1 in what AMISOM said was “one of the strategic objectives which are earmarked for liberation.’
Gen. Raage called on those who fled Sabiib during the Al-Shabaab reign to return noting the situation was now under control.
Meanwhile, seven children whose families fled Sabiib and neighbouring Anoole and camped in Kahda district in the outskirts of Mogadishu succumbed to diarrhoea while 11 others are undergoing treatment. (See separate story)