Somali Al Shabab, an armed Al Qaeda-affiliated militant group operating in Somalia and beyond, rammed a car laden with explosives early on Friday into the African Union (AU) base south of the capital Mogadishu leading to a heavy clash between the two parties, Mohammed Haji, an official in the Lower Shabelle region told Associated Press.
"A car bomb rammed into the AU base," Somali Major Nur Olow said. "AU forces opened fire at the speeding car bomb [but] the car forced its way in."
"There is still heavy fighting between Burundian forces and Al Shabab at the Burundi base in Lego town," said Abdikadir Mohamed Sidi, governor of the Lower Shabelle region where Lego is located on the main road connecting Mogadishu and the inland city of Baidoa.
The intense fighting left dozens of AU fighters dead.
"The fighting was the heaviest ever around this area, the Shabab fighters took full control of the base and killed many soldiers," said Alinur Mohamed, a local elder in Lego village, 100 kilometres (62 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu.
Witnesses at the scene claimed to have seen as many as 50 corpses, but exact statistics were difficult to calculate since many of the corpses were reportedly beheaded.
Al Shabab militants were able to seize the base and state victory as they raised their flag, a Shabab spokesman said.
"The Black flag is flying over the main base of AMISOM in Lego this morning and the dead bodies of the enemy are scattered around the area, the mujahedeen fighters have taken all their military supplies," Mohamed Abu-Yahya, a Shabab commander said.
Since Al Shabab militants have been driven out of many regions they once controlled over the African territory, including Mogadishu, they have carried out violent attacks targeting government officials and civilians.