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Militant Islamist group al-Shabaab, which recently pulled out of its bases in Mogadishu, has claimed its new urban guerrilla tactics are a success, saying it had caused a “high number” of casualties amongst Uganda and Burundian peacekeepers.
While many saw the withdrawal from Mogadishu as a sign of the group’s weakness, the insurgents say the decision was made to switch from conventional warfare – which a top leader on Friday admitted as not working in the capital – to traditional insurgent tactics.
In an approved statement written by pro-al-Shabaab journalists and circulated in English among foreign journalists and pro-al-Shabaab media, the group said the first phase of these new tactics had “concluded successfully”.
“Among the casualties, there are some soldiers whom the Ugandan army has deserted and whose corpses are still within the custody of the Mujahideen, including the UPDF soldier JAMBILI KIZITO whose serial Number is RA/204294,” the statement read. “This change in military tactics, as well as the increased mobility of the Mujahideen's forces in all of Mogadishu’s districts, will provide them with the ability to inflict maximum damage to the frustrated AMISOM & TFG troops whilst greatly minimizing the losses on the side of the Mujahideen.”
There have been several incidents of al-Shabaab fighters left behind in Mogadishu clashing with AU and government forces spreading out to take over the vacated bases.
Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for AMISOM, refused to comment on the claims that peacekeepers had been killed. The peacekeeping force is renowned for being tight-lipped when it comes to its own casualties, although that has started to change in recent months.
However, the deputy commander of the Somali armed forces, Abdikarin Yusuf Aden Dhega-badan, denied there had been any casualties and vowed to completely rid the capital of the insurgents.