U.S. says on alert over “possible attacks in Djibouti after al-Shabaab threat

U.S. Army soldiers look out at Mogadishu, Somalia. American forces came under fire from al Shabab militants about 40 miles west of Mogadishu Tuesday. (James Peterson/National Geographic)

The US government has said it will take seriously an al-Shabaab threat to take US and France bases in Djibouti barely a month after US withdrew its troops from Somalia.

A spokesperson, Colonel Christopher Karns, told VOA Somali that the U.S. Africa Command is aware of the recent audio release from al-Shabab calling for attacks on U.S. and French interests in Djibouti.

“U.S. Africa Command takes these statements seriously,” Karns said. “Al-Shabab remains a persistent threat to U.S. interests in East Africa. This is why it remains important to apply continued pressure on the al-Shabab network and isolate the threat it presents to the region and beyond.”

Al-Shabaab militant group leader, Ahmed Omar Abu Ubaidah has called on al-Shabaab sympatthisers and the supports to attack American and French interests in Djibouti.

Abu Ubaidah specifically called on the youth in Djibouti to “carry out individual lone wolf martyrdom operations” to expel the French and Americans.”

Djibouti is a key staging ground for both the United States, which uses Camp Lemmonier on the outskirts of Djibouti’s capital as an operating base for 4,000 US and allied personnel, France and China, which chose the country to host its first overseas military installation in 2017.

From a US perspective, Djibouti is ideally located for conducting missions in the Middle East and East Africa; for Beijing, a military presence in Djibouti helps secure its substantial East African investments.

The tiny horn of Africa nation is expected to hold presidential elections in April this year.

Ismail Omar Guelleh who has been ruling the country since 1999 announced in late December he would be running for a fifth term in presidential elections.

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