On 30 May 2023, Al-Jazeera reported that al-Shabaab fighters attacked a military base on the outskirts of a town in central Somalia, leading to at least 17 deaths. This follows an earlier deadly attack on 27 May 2023 on an African Union (AU) peace keeping mission where at least 54 Ugandan peacekeepers were killed at their base, with others reported captured (France24, 4 June 2023). Al-Shabaab have conducted over 200 attacks since the beginning of 2023 and have reportedly regained territory previously lost in the government offensive. The government offensive has been assisted both by clan militias and foreign powers (ACLED, Situation Update, May 2023). In the month of March 2023, 27 separate attacks by al-Shabaab were recorded (Terrorist Analysis Platform, 5 May 2023).
Yonas Dembele, World Watch Research analyst, comments: “In recent weeks, Al-Shabaab militants have intensified their counter-offensive against the coalition forces of the national army and the African Union peacekeepers. Prior to this recent upsurge in violence, the militants had suffered serious setbacks in the face of the government-led offensive which commenced in August 2022, soon after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took over power after being elected in May 2022. The government offensive had shown positive results in the last quarter of 2022, but recent successful operations by al-Shabaab have proved their resilience and will bolster their influence in the region. This is disappointing for the Christian community which has been targeted for hostile attack both in Somalia and in the wider region.”