Al-Shabab Claims Attack that Killed 5, Including 4 UAE Soldiers, on Military Base in Somalia

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The al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack that the UAE’s defence ministry said took place at the General Gordon military base in Mogadishu on Saturday night.

At least five people, including four soldiers from the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces and an officer from the Bahrain Defence Force, were killed in an attack on a training mission at a military base in Somalia’s capital, authorities said on Sunday.

The al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack that the UAE’s Ministry of Defence said took place at the General Gordon military base in Mogadishu on Saturday night.

Details about the attack, including the number of casualties, remained scarce on Sunday, though Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud offered his condolences to the UAE for the loss of its troops.

The UAE’s defence ministry initially announced the death of three of its troops and a Bahraini soldier in a “terrorist act,” adding that two others were injured during the attack. It added that one of the injured had died on arrival in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

UAE personnel had been training soldiers from the Somali Armed Forces as part of an agreement between the UAE and Somalia, the ministry said.

Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat, offered condolences to those killed and a quick recovery for those wounded. “No treacherous act will prevent us from continuing the message of security and safety and combating extremism and terrorism in all its forms,” he wrote on X.

Bahrain, an island nation in the Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia, did not immediately acknowledge the attack.

An army officer told Reuters news agency that the gunman was a newly trained Somali soldier, saying: “The soldier opened fire on UAE trainers and Somali military officials when they started praying.”

“We understand the soldier had defected from al-Shabaab before he was recruited as a soldier by Somalia and UAE,” the UAE army official added.

In claiming the attack, al-Shabab alleged in an online statement that it killed multiple people involved in the Emirati military effort. It described the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, as an “enemy” of Islamic law for its backing of the Somali government in battling the armed group.

Somali President Mohamud condemned the attack and instructed Somalia’s security agencies to conduct a “thorough and urgent investigation.”

The UAE said it would cooperate with the Somali government in investigating what it called a terrorist attack, and reiterated its resolve to combat terrorism and maintain peace and stability in the region.

Al-Shabab was designated as a terrorist group by the US in 2008 and by a UN Security Council committee in 2010. The group has been battling Somalia’s federal government and the AU-mandated peacekeeping mission as it seeks to establish a new government in the country based on its interpretation of Islamic law.