The group claimed the attack as it considers the UAE an ‘enemy’ for backing the Somali government.
Three Emirati troops and a Bahraini military officer have been killed in an attack in Somalia.
Al-Qaeda-linked armed group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack on a training mission at a military base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities said on Sunday.
The attack on Saturday targeted troops at the General Gordon military base. Details about the attack and casualties remain scarce. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud offered his condolences to the UAE.
The UAE’s Ministry of Defence announced the death of three of its troops and a Bahraini soldier in a “terrorist act”, adding only that two others were wounded.
Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat, offered condolences to those killed and a quick recovery for those wounded.
“No treacherous act will prevent us from continuing the message of security and safety and combating extremism and terrorism in all its forms,” Gargash wrote on X.
Bahrain, an island nation in the Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia, did not immediately acknowledge the attack.
Al-Shabab claimed the attack in a statement online, alleging it killed multiple people involved in the Emirati military effort. It described the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, as an “enemy” of Islamic law for its backing of the Somali government in battling the armed group.
Al-Shabab, or “the youth” in Arabic, was born out of Somalia’s many years of anarchy following a 1991 civil war. The affiliate of al-Qaeda once held Mogadishu. Over time, an African Union (AU)-led force, with the backing of the United States and other countries, pushed the group out of the capital.
Since then, al-Shabab has been battling the country’s federal government and the AU-mandated peacekeeping mission as it seeks to establish a new government based on its interpretation of Islamic law.
The group routinely carries out bombings in highly densely populated areas across the country.
On Tuesday, at least 10 people were killed and about 20 were injured in multiple attacks in a crowded market in Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab has carried out attacks in neighbouring Kenya as well since Nairobi provides troops and materiel to the AU force in the country.
The UAE in recent years has increasingly invested in ports in East Africa, including in Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region.
Securing Somalia fits into the Emirates’ wider concerns about security in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Somali piracy has recently resumed after several years amid the attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on shipping in the Red Sea.
In 2019, al-Shabab claimed an attack that killed a man working for Dubai’s P&O Ports.