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Ethiopia awards ‘heroes’ who foiled Al-Shabab attack in Somalia

Al Shabaab regularly attacks AMISOM, which is made up of about 22,000 soldiers and police from African nations supporting Somalia’s government and army in the fight against the al Qaeda-linked militants.

By Muluneh Gebre,

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government has given certificates and financial prizes to more than a hundred members of its defense force under 13th division 4th battalion in recognition of their outstanding performance in killing 350 Islamic militants and injuring 58 others in a fighting at a military base last year.

The country’s president Dr. Mulatu Teshome also awarded what is called “Second level Adwa Medal” for the 13th division 4th battalion for the ‘heroic’ deed it has done in ‘destroying’ al-Shabab group at a military base in Halgen, a town in central Somalia in June last year.

The awards were given on Tuesday while Ethiopia is celebrating the fifth Defense Force Day in Jigjiga town, the capital of Ethiopian Somali regional state and all recipients of the award were members of the 13th division 4th battalion whose general was killed by the al-Shabaab militants in the process.

In June last year, the Somali rebel group al-Shabab claimed that it has killed 43 soldiers in Halgan in  an attack on a base of Ethiopian troops serving with the African Union’s AMISOM force Somalia.

The town of Halgan lies in the Hiraan region of central Somalia, about 300km north of the capital Mogadishu.

An al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, said that “several” al-Shabab fighters had died in the raid but he did not give a figure.

Speaking at the celebration, President Teshome hailed Ethiopian defense forces that he credited in ensuring peace in neighboring countries, besides safeguarding the sovereignty of the country.

The celebration is aimed at remembering those who contributed for the peace and development of the country, the president noted.

“The day is unique as we are celebrating it with our heroes who managed to inflict heavy losses on the Islamist militant group al-Shabab,” Mulatu added.

Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, General Samora Yenus at the celebration said other than those killed and wounded, one al-shabbab militant was surrended while 15 machine guns, 13 launchers guns, 4 mortars, 5 pistols, 4 video cameras and 21 grenades were seized during the operation.

General Samora added that Ethiopian troops are also fulfilling efficiently international peacekeeping missions in neighboring countries, assuring members of the 13th division 4th battalion of full salary similar to that given to Ethiopian peacekeepers serving in South Sudan.

Al-Shabab often launches gun and bomb attacks on officials, Somali security forces and AMISOM in an effort to topple the government and impose its own brand of government on Somalia.

On early February, Kenyan troops serving with AMISOM suffered heavy losses when al-Shabab made a dawn raid on their camp in Kulbiyow, a town near the Kenyan border.

Al-Shabab said it killed more than 57 soldiers but Kenya gave no exact casualty figure.

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