Addis Abeba — The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) said its forces have "completely thwarted" a group of Al-Shabaab fighters in an area called Robdirre inside Somalia after the group's attempt to attack Ethiopian forces stationed inside Somalia.
In the first official statement since reports of attacks by Al-Shabaab against Ethiopian forces over the weekend, which resulted in causalities, the army admitted that "Al-Shabaab planned to attack the Ethiopian Defense Forces at a place called Robdirre inside in Somalia, but the plan was completely thwarted by our defense forces," the army's statement quoted Colonel Fayisa Ayele, the commander of the Ethiopian contingent, as saying.
According to Colonel Faysa, Al-Shabaab forces "deployed three explosive-laden vehicles and 12 explosive-armed militants, as well as more than 450 of their members, but they were destroyed by the defense forces in the area."
Somali officials told the VOA over the weekend that "Al-Shabab militants attacked convoys carrying Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia's southwestern Bakool region early Sunday."
The ambush targeted two convoys, one traveling from the Somali town of Yeed to Wajid and the second convoy as it traveled from El Barde to the town of Huddur. Ethiopian troops have bases in Wajid and Huddur.
the militant group subsequently claimed killing as many as 167 Ethiopian soldiers and capturing others including medical personnel. The claim has not been independently verified.
The Ethiopian army's statement this morning did not mention causalities as a result of the attack.
An official of the Somalia federal government forces operating in Huddur district of Bakool region told local media that more than 55 members of the Al-Shabaab group were killed in a subsequent joint counteroffensive by Somali and Ethiopian forces.
Marshal Tilahun Demsie, another member of the Ethiopian contingent, on his part admitted that the group has "deployed a large number of forces and moved to carry out the attack" aided by vehicle explosives. However, two units of the ENDF moved to destroy the group through coordinated attack. The Ethiopian army is still in pursuit of the remainder Al-Shabaab members into the group's location, the army further said.
It is recalled that in 20 July last year, Al-Shabaab militants overrun the Somali region in Ethiopia after attacking Aato and Yeed, where Liyu police were encamped. Both towns are located in the Bakool region of southwestern Somalia and bordering Ethiopia.
The militants then entered through the Afdheer zone into the Somali region on the same day, according to the Somali Regional State Security Council. The council detailed that more than 100 members of Al-Shabaab militants were killed in a three-day operation against the group, adding, "13 vehicles were burnt and the weapons and supplies they [Al Shabaab] brought with them were seized".
On the 25 July, reinforcement members of the ENDF were dispatched to join the Somali region's security forces in the fight and According to Maj. Gen Tesfaye, the group attempted to attack through five different border areas, namely Yeed, Aato, El-Barde, Washaaqo, and Ferfer, however, they [Al-Shabaab units] were repulsed by security forces.
However, a year later in June this year, the group organized another attack against Ethiopian forces stationed in the border area. The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Ethiopian forces "foiled an attack by the terrorist Al-Shabaab group in Dolow town on the Ethiopia-Somalia border."