June 21 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) kicked off its withdrawal from the country this Wednesday with the transfer to the Army of control of a military base in the Hirshabelle region, within the framework of a reduction of its contingent for June 2023.
The mission has indicated in a statement published on its website that the delivery is the first of an operational base to the Army and has stressed that the base, located in Xaaji Cali, was “under the area of responsibility” of the Burundian forces deployed in the bosom of the ATMIS.
“We have worked closely over the years with the Somali Army and this cooperation has significantly contributed to improving stability and security in this area,” ATMIS Logistics Officer Collins Musau said.
For his part, the commander of the Somali Army in the area, Bashir Abukar Ahmed, thanked ATMIS for the transfer of control of the base and praised the “good working relations” with the African Union mission. “Now they are handing over (the base), as stipulated, we are happy to assume security responsibilities,” he argued.
The Xaaji Cali base is located some 70 kilometers northeast of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and is part of the seven forward operating bases that will be handed over by ATMIS to the Somali authorities by June 2023, when it is expected having withdrawn 2,000 soldiers from the African country.
Somalia has increased offensives against Al Shabaab in recent months with the support of clans and local militias as part of a series of decisions taken by the president, Hasan Sheikh Mohamud, who promised upon taking office to put the fight against terrorism at the center of his efforts to stabilize the African country.