Al-Shabaab militants currently face a three-front battle, with Ethiopian forces moving in from the east, Kenyan troops from the south, and government forces backed by African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) pushing outward from the government controlled capital of Mogadishu. On January 20, the BBC reported that government and AMISOM troops had captured three al-Shabaab enclaves, securing territory outside of the city for the first time. Earlier this month, Ethiopian troops made key advances into the central Somali city of Beledweyne, a trading axis for militants located near the Ethiopian border. Kenyan forces also have made advances in the south after being bogged down by heavy rains earlier in the campaign. This week, troops are reportedly closing in on the town of Afmandow, a gateway leading to the coastal town of Kismayu, which acts as the financial nerve center and de-facto capital of al-Shabaab’s territory.
Despite critical losses, al-Shabaab remains a significant threat. On January 24, it claimed responsibility for a bombing attack on an Ethiopian military base in Beledweyne. The group’s Twitter feed announced that 33 Ethiopians were killed in the strike. These numbers could not be independently verified.
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