Al Shabab militants attack AU base in southern Somalia

Militants claim to have killed dozens of peacekeeping soldiers in their latest attack on AU base in southern Somalia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Al Qaeda-aligned Al Shabab militants

Residents and Al Shabab sources have reported the killing of dozens of African Union soldiers in an attack carried out by the militant group in southern Somalia early on Tuesday.

The attack is the latest assault carried out by the Al Qaeda-aligned militants on the AU peacekeeping force even though it has lost several strongholds since a major military offensive against it last month.

"After morning prayers we heard a big explosion followed by heavy gunfire in the AMISOM base. We do not have further details as we are indoors," local resident Ahmed Olow said.

Another resident said the militants also "destroyed" the famous Jannaale bridge over Shabelle river prior to the attack on the AU military base.

"Now Janale base of AMISOM is under our control," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab - Al Shabab's military operations spokesman - told Reuters.

The militants said one of their gunmen drove a car bomb into the base before militants stormed in. 

Al Shabab said 50 African peacekeepers were killed in the attack on Janale base, about 90 km south of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

The report is yet to be confirmed. In the past, the group has exaggerated the number of AU soldiers it has killed in attacks and officials have reduced the number. 

No AMISOM and government officials were available for comment but nearby residents confirmed the attack.  

Al Shabab has been designated as a “terrorist organization” by the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and NATO.

After being driven out of many regions they once controlled in Somalia, including Mogadishu, Al Shabab militants have carried out violent attacks targeting government officials and civilians. 

TRTWorld and agencies