Galcad: Another Senior SNA Commander killed in an Al-Shabab Dawn Attack – What Went Wrong

20.1.2023: Galcad, Galgaduud

An attack in the early hours of this morning on a military compound in the recently liberated village of Galcad by Al-Shabab militants has killed a number of soldiers including Major Hassan Mohamed Osman (Tuure), the well-known deputy commander of Somalia’s Danab Commandos.

Several initial reports suggested that numerous soldiers were killed however the Somali Government confirmed that seven soldiers lost their lives in the battle and that the compound as well as Galcad currently remain under Somali Government control.

How Did the Battle Unfold?

Early reports from the village indicated that militants began the attack with a twin-car suicide bombing at the gates of the compound just after morning prayers before militant fighters stormed.

Galcad alongside Harardheere and El-Dheere are former Al-Shabab strongholds in the region that were recently liberated by SNA forces in partnership with local clan militia known as ‘Macawisley‘ as they push towards the strategic town of El-Buur – the last militant stronghold in the region.

According to the Somali Government, SNA forces repelled that attack this morning, killed over 100 Al-Shabab fighters in the process as well as destroying five vehicles including an SNA armoured military vehicle that was captured by the militants in a previous battle.

Additionally, the government has confirmed that the village of Galcad as well as the military compound currently remain under Somali control while “the bodies of Al-Shabab fighters litter the battleground”.

Conversely, Al-Shabab militants claim to have killed 159 Somali soldiers. However, the group is known to dramatically inflate death toll figures and outright create fake news to push their propaganda.

Constant Dawn Attacks

Al-Shabab militants have consistently engaged in dawn attacks in the most recent war against the group in Galmudug and Hirshabelle. If we simply look at the militant attacks in Beledweyne, Mahaas, Hilowle Gaab and most recently Hawadley, Al-Shabab tends to attack at dawn in areas recently liberated by government forces.

These attacks resulted in the deaths of senior SNA Commanders including:

  • Colonel Abshir Shataqey, Commander of the 3rd battalion of the 27th Division (SNA), killed in Hawadley Jan 17.
  • Major Jamal Ahmed, Head of CID in Beledweyne killed on Jan 16.

It seems as though their strategy is retreating from the town and regrouping before launching an unexpected dawn attack on government positions to inflict the most damage possible while attempting to demoralise soldiers.

The reality is that the militants are able to still deploy explosive-laden vehicles and devices within Hirshabelle and Galmudug despite recent government victories in key strategic towns in the region. The militants still control areas of the countryside enabling the movement of not just fighters but also equipment to launch these attacks.

To relieve pressure on this issue, the government must work with international partners to increasingly intensify air raids to keep militant supply lines unorganised and in disarray. However, many have questioned the so-called international partners such as the U.K. as the U.N. Security Council continues to oppose any lifting of the current arms embargo which has hindered the Somali Army in fighting the militants with heavy artillery on the ground as well as air attacks.

Nevertheless, aside from the issue of militant supply lines on the frontlines, the simple fact the war against Al-Shabab is only being fought in Hirshabelle and Galmudug is a major hindrance to the war effort. For example, despite the fact that the militants lost the coastal district of Harardheere, they still have access to large swathes of territories in other areas including Lower Shabelle or Middle Jubba region which is entirely under militant control.

Ultimately, while it is important that SNA focuses on the liberation of towns and regions from the militants, it must also step up the pressure on militant supply lines not just in Hirshabelle or Galmudug but also in other regions to begin slowly choking the group’s strength. This will require a national effort but with the increasing political instability in South West State, and the lack of cohesion or unity in Jubaland, it does not seem as though the united effort needed at this current time will begin.

Who Was Major Hassan Tuure?

Yet again, the Somali nation mourns for another young talent amongst its security ranks killed on the frontlines.

Major Tuure (AUN) was among the dozens of rising stars in Somalia’s security apparatus that have been killed in the current war against Al-Shabab. Last year, the well-known and respected young commander of the Somali Police Force (SPF) in Banaadir, General Farhan Mohamud Aden, popularly known as Farhan ‘Qaroole’ was killed by an IED in Balcad, Middle Shabelle.

The death of Major Tuure resulted in outpour of sorrow and prayers from the Somali community across the world. Somali users across social media posted thousands of messages of prayers and admiration for the Major including former Prime Ministers, Presidents as well as members of civil society.

Tuure has been described by military and government officials as the unsung hero of the ongoing military offensive against Al Shabaab having led Danab Commandos in a number successful offensives against the militants in the region in recent months. His loss will be a major blow to the Somali army.

For more on Somalia, follow Suldan Mohamed and HORUMAR on Twitter.

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