The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has handed over two more Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) bringing to four the number of FOBs that have so far been handed over to the Somali National Army (SNA). Another FOB, Marka Ayub has been closed.
The bases handed over on Tuesday include Cadale in the Hirshabelle State which was occupied by the Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF) and Albao in Southwest State, which was under the responsibility of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
In Cadale, the ATMIS Burundi contingent commander, Brig. Gen. Jean Claude Niyiburana, handed over the base to the SNA Brigade Commander in Cadale, Col. Saney Abdulle, at an event attended by senior military and civilian officials from ATMIS and SNA.
Brig. Gen. Niyiburana urged the Somali security forces taking over the position to remain vigilant and continue the fight to defeat the Al-Shabaab and secure the local population.
“You know this area better and Al-Shabaab continues to target Somali security forces and ATMIS troops across all sectors. Stay vigilant as the enemy does not rest,” said Brig. Gen. Niyiburana.
The Somali National Army Brigade Commander in Cadale, Col. Saney, thanked ATMIS forces for the cooperation and assured that the Somali forces were ready to secure the country and defeat Al-Shabaab.
“SNA will take over the bases, secure the whole country and defeat Al-Shabaab terrorists who continue to spill Somali blood. We have made progress in the war against Al-Shabaab, and we will stay the course and defeat them,” said Col. Saney.
At the Albao FOB in the Southwest State, the ATMIS commander of the FOB, Lt. Col. Steven Kashagama, handed over to the SNA, Capt. Mohamed Somali.
Lt. Col. Kashagama expressed confidence in the Somali National Army to secure the population and defend the area against Al-Shabaab.
“We are handing over the security responsibility for Albao and the neighbouring areas to the Somali security forces. For the time I have been with them, they have shown charisma, energy and resilience. I have no doubt they are ready to secure the population,” he said.
ATMIS Military Chief of Operations Officer, Col. Milton Katarinyeba, who was in Cadale, appealed to the Somali security forces to protect the local populations from Al-Shabaab attacks.
ATMIS is withdrawing 2,000 troops by the end of June 2023 in compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 2628(22) and 2670(22) which require ATMIS to gradually transfer security responsibilities to the Somali security forces.
The other two FOBs that have already been handed over to the SNA include Xaaji Caali and Mirtuquo.