Al-Qaeda-linked armed group Al-Shabab claimed the attack, describing the UAE as an “enemy.”
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani offered his condolences to the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Sunday following the killing of four Emirati and one Bahraini military officers in Somalia.
Qatar’s News Agency reported that Sheikh Tamim also held a phone call with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan where he extended his condolences and “wished the injured a speedy recovery”.
The Gulf military members were killed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda-linked armed group Al-Shabab, which described the UAE as an “enemy” for backing Somalia’s government.
The Emirati and Bahraini troops were on a training mission at the General Gordon Military Base in Mogadishu. One of the Emirati military men succumbed to his injuries on his way back to the UAE, local news agency (WAM) reported on Sunday.
The UAE’s defence ministry confirmed its members were “fulfilling their mission to train and qualify the Somali Armed Forces as part of a bilateral agreement” it shares with Somalia, WAM added.
The Bahraini military member has been identified as Major Abdullah Rashid Al Noaimi, Bahrain’s news agency reported on Sunday, without mentioning further details on the training mission.
Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat, separately said on X: “No treacherous act will prevent us from continuing the message of security and safety and combating extremism and terrorism in all its forms.”
The U.S. embassy in Somalia also condemned the attack while extending its condolences to the fallen military men’s families.
“We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms and remain steadfast in our support of Somali efforts to build peace,” it said on X.
Translating to ‘The Youth’ in Arabic, Al-Shabab first emerged as the extremist youth wing of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, which ruled Mogadishu in 2006 before Ethiopian forces drove them out.
Al-Shabab has since vowed to topple the Western-backed Somali government while carrying out attacks in Kenya.
Last year, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to eliminate the group and said he would carry out military operations until a “final victory” is achieved.
“We will achieve the final victory that we seek. The importance is achieving a final victory. A final victory is near,” he said on August 29, 2023.
Meanwhile, the UAE has been vying for influence in Mogadishu and sought control over its maritime ports due to the African country’s proximity to the Gulf and its centrality to Red Sea security and key maritime trading routes.
Such interest has become a timely matter for the UAE given the return to Somali piracy in light of the Red Sea escalations, triggered by Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.
The UAE has also been expanding its influence in the region, most notably during the Sudan war where it is seen as a backer of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
However, Abu Dhabi denied backing the RSF and maintained that “it does not take sides in the current conflict,” an Emirati official told the Financial Times reported on January 24.
The report came after a leaked United Nations document found “credible” evidence that the UAE was sending weapons to the RSF.