- Increased allied firepower in the regions strangle Al-Shabaab movements in the regions
- Group adopting urban guerilla warfare in response to US airstrikes
- Increased attacks in Mogadishu likely as Al-Shabaab decimates ISS
Pressure from local and international forces in the regions is pushing Al-Shabaab to urban centres, a new report has revealed warning Somalia and its allies must brace for possible increased urban guerilla attacks by the militants.
The Mogadishu based security think thank Hiraal Institute said in its latest report the military offensives by regional forces and that of the Federal forces in collaboration with international forces was squeezing out the militants from the hideouts forcing them to adopt means of survival.
“The group seems to be completing a transition to focus more on urban guerrilla operations in order to render the increased air attacks less effective in weakening its ability to hurt the government and its allies,” the report notes.
The air attacks, the report says have made it difficult for Al-Shabaab to use its heavy cannons and move troops around, giving regional forces an opportunity they did not have in the past.
As a result of the sustained pressure which include hellfire drone bombings by US forces, the last quarter of 2018 witnessed increased Al-Shabaab and IS in Somalia (ISS) attacks in urban areas such as Mogadishu. Only last week, Al-Shabaab launched a deadly attack in the capital killing 25 people and injuring over 100 others.
The government and its allies will need to massively invest in urban policing and providing security to the public or risk further losing its grip in the capital.
According to the report, assassinations by pistol continued to be focused in Mogadishu and surrounding areas to the northwest of the city.
“The last three months of 2018 maintained the same level of intensity as was established in the months preceding this period.”
US forces have since the beginning of the year conducted at least 15 airstrikes killing 212 Al-Shabaab militants in south-central Somalia.
The air attacks have made it difficult for AS to use its heavy cannons and move troops around, giving regional forces an opportunity they did not have in the past, the report notes.
AS-ISS fight for Mogadishu
Though the fight for control of Mogadishu by both Al-Shabaab and ISS may have shifted the duo’s attention from their conventional targets, the report warns, extra munitions and fighters deployed into Mogadishu during the tussle late last year poses a new security challenge for the government and its allies.
According to the report, Al-Shabaab deployed extra fighters and intelligence (Amniyat) into Mogadishu notably Bakara market threatening traders against acceding to ISS demands.
“Because of the ISS-AS assassinations war in Mogadishu, AS did not focus on FGS targets as much as it would have done had it not been distracted by ISS. However, the extra resources it poured into the capital means assassinations will continue to increase in this area,” the report observes.
Given Al-Shabaab’s machinery to support and expand its urban guerilla campaign, Hiraal says, the government and its allies ‘will need to massively invest in urban policing and providing security to the public or risk further losing its grip in the capital.’