African Union’s Mission in Somalia has begun withdrawing its troops from the country against the backdrop of heightened insecurity in Mogadishu.
The capital has witnessed almost 1,000 deaths in just three months.
This is the highest number of fatalities recorded in the country in such a short time since Amisom operations began in 2007.
The intensified attacks have caused a security scare in Somalia, leading to the resignation of Defence minister Abdirashid Abdullahi and army boss Ahmed Mohamed Jimale Irfid.
The fears have also led to the dismissals of senior security and intelligence officials, with the US State Department ordering Americans to leave the country.
The United Nations asked local and foreign staff to be more vigilant while in Somalia. The same warning was issued to government ministries.
In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Information Minister Abdirhaman Osman Yarisow admitted that the war on terrorism was becoming complex.
He said terrorists were changing tactics and conducting “an asymmetric warfare”.
“It is very difficult to stop terrorists who want and are ready to kill themselves, especially if they want to do so in populated areas,” the minister said.
“The government has succeeded in securing its institutions and that is why al-Shabaab terrorists are desperately turning to populated civilian zones to make newspaper headlines.”
Shortly before his sacking following Somalia’s worst ever attack that claimed the lives of more than 400 people last month, National Intelligence and Security Agency director general Abdillahi Mohamed Sanbalooshe unleashed stinging attacks on partners and the global community, saying the country needed material support “not tears or hollow empathies”.
“To defeat al-Shabaab, Somalia requires expertise and equipment. It needs a new paradigm of cooperation between our security services and international partners,” he said in a New York Times opinion piece.
“We have been operating almost blind. International partners offered to provide technical assistance but their good intentions served to blind us the more.”
The intensity of the attacks in the last three months has been high. Among the dead were tens of Kenyans working in Mogadishu and combatants attached to the al-Shabaab group, most who have been felled by bullets from Amisom or Somali National Army soldiers.
Yet still, several others have been beheaded by their hosts on suspicion of spying for the Kenya Defence Forces.
Only last week, three Kenyans allied to al-Shabaab were executed, with four others having been beheaded in September in Lamu County.
And among those who perished in last month’s attack in Mogadishu was a young Kenyan woman, who served as director of the gender office in the Federal Government of Somalia’s Ministry of Planning.
Last month, about 100 national army soldiers and 623 civilians were killed, with Amisom reporting an additional 281 members of its troops killed so far this year.
Owing to attacks from militias, government soldiers have withdrawn from at least 32 bases in rural Somalia.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo is yet to announce a replacement of officers who resigned or were dismissed owing to the worsening security situation in Somalia.