Capture of FOB Kolbiyow
Kolbiyow, Lower Jubba region, Somalia


At approximately 0500 hours EAT on 27th January 2017, an al Shabaab suicide bomber detonated his vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) against the main entrance of the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) Forward Operating Base (FOB) located near Kolbiyow, approximately five kilometres east of the Kenyan border in Lower Jubba region.

The explosion was followed by a large-scale al Shabaab attack against the FOB. A large number of al Shabaab fighters attacked the KDF defenders and allegedly captured the base at approximately 1030 hours EAT. Unverified local media reporting suggested a second VBIED was detonated inside the base. A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) deployed from the nearby KDF base of Haluqa was forced to retreat after being hit by several roadside IEDs.

The al Shabaab spokesman for military operations, Sheikh Abdi Aziz Abu Mus’ab, released a press statement claiming responsibility for the attack, stating that at least 57 Kenyan soldiers had been killed. The attack was reportedly carried out by elements of the “Saleh Nabhan Brigade”, the al Shabaab unit responsible for the capture of the Kenyan base of Ceel Cadde in Gedo region on 15th January 2016. The Kenyan Ministry of Defence released a statement at approximately 1100 hours EAT claiming the base had not been captured, without detailing any casualty figures.


While Kenyan and al Shabaab news outlets continue to debate the results of the attack, it is assessed that al Shabaab captured the base. The militants’ propaganda apparatus has historically covered this type of incident more accurately than foreign media outlets, notably during the previous captures of military bases in Somalia.
The attack bears the same modus operandi as all of the complex attacks on foreign FOBs in South Central Somalia since mid-2015:

  • 26th June 2015 capture of the Burundian FOB in Leego, Bay region;
  • 1st September 2015 capture of the Ugandan FOB in Janaale, Lower Shabelle region;
  • 15th January 2016 capture of the Kenyan FOB in Ceel Cadde, Gedo region;
  • 9th June 2016 attempted capture of the Ethiopian base in Halgan, Hiiraan region.

The complete report is available for download at the following link:  Capture of FOB Kolbiyow Kolbiyow, Lower Jubba region, Somalia

This report is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this report. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information within the report but Salama Fikira can take no responsibility for inaccuracies of fact or deduction. All images are subject to copyright.