The Somali military killed 15 al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabab terrorists in the country’s central Galgaduud region, according to a statement released Sunday.

An operation was conducted by Gorgor, the Somali special forces trained by Turkey, in the El Dhere village, 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Dhusamareb, the capital of the Galmuduug state.

In a brief statement on Twitter, the Somali army said dozens of al-Shabab terrorists were also wounded in the operation.

A huge cache of arms was also seized in the operation, a military official told Anadolu Agency (AA) over the phone.

Witnesses in the town told AA that they saw at least seven wounded soldiers who were rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Al-Shabab, for its part, claimed that it has killed seven military troops in the clash.

Turkey provided special commando training to 150 Somali soldiers as part of a military cooperation deal between the two countries.

Relations between Turkey and the Horn of Africa nation have been historically strong and picked up pace after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made an official visit in 2011, the only visit by a non-African leader to Somalia in 20 years. Turkey has also continued its support to Somalia with humanitarian aid in the health, education and security sectors.

Turkey’s vast aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine endeared the country to many Somali people, and it has continued to provide aid, much of it from private companies. Turkish organizations have also built schools, hospitals and infrastructure and have provided scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey.

As the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has extensive experience fighting terrorists, Turkish training of the Somali military is helpful in countering Somalia’s own terrorist threats.

Turkey’s biggest overseas military training base, which was inaugurated in 2017, is located in Somalia and is also among the largest foreign-run military centers in the country.

Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of President Siad Barre’s military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of the al-Shabab terrorist group, which once controlled large parts of the country and the capital.

By MOGADISHU POST

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