The United Arab Emirates has announced the tragic loss of four Emirati soldiers and a Bahraini officer who were killed during an attack in Somalia while engaged in the training of the Somali national army.
On Saturday, the attack targeted military personnel at the General Gordon military base. Details, including the casualty count, are currently limited. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud extended his condolences to the United Arab Emirates in the aftermath of the incident.
The soldiers were “exposed to a terrorist act” while “performing their work duties in training and qualifying the Somali Armed Forces”, the UAE’s defence ministry said in a statement on Saturday, adding that three Emirati soldiers and a Bahraini officer were killed.
A fourth Emirati soldier, who was among two injured in the attack, “passed away upon arrival” in the UAE on Sunday, the official WAM news agency said, raising the overall death toll.
A Somali military source said that the gunman was a member of the Somali army who opened fire inside a training camp in the capital Mogadishu, killing and injuring an unknown number of people including soldiers from the UAE.
“The shooting was carried out by a member of the army who stayed in the camp. He was killed in the shooting,” said a senior Somali army official.
“We condemn in our strongest terms this heinous act in which these officers were killed. I have instructed an urgent investigation on the matter,” he said in a post on X.
"The soldier opened fire on the UAE trainers and Somali military officials when they started praying. Four UAE officers were injured while four Somali soldiers died," an army officer told Reuters.
"We understand the soldier had defected from Al Shabaab before he was recruited as a soldier by Somalia and UAE," he said.
Al-Qaeda linked armed group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack on a training mission at a military base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities said on Sunday. 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.
Al-Shabab, meaning "the youth" in Arabic, emerged in the wake of Somalia's prolonged period of anarchy that ensued after a civil war in 1991. Initially, this al-Qaeda affiliated group gained control of Mogadishu. Over time, an African Union (AU)-led force, with the backing of the United States and other countries, pushed the group out of the capital.
Image source: Reuters