Al-Shabaab captures AU military base in Somalia

2015-09-01 12:44
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Mogadishu (dpa) - Islamist militant group al-Shabaab captured an African Union military base in Somalia on Tuesday, killing many soldiers.

Hundreds of insurgents attacked the base in Janaale, 75km south of Mogadishu in the Lower Shebelle region, at dawn, a senior military commander said.

"Many people" appeared to have been killed, added the commander, who asked not to be named.

Abdifatah Abdullahi Hagi, the deputy governor of Lower Shebelle, confirmed the capture.

The African Union has more than 20 000 peacekeepers in Somalia to help the government fight al-Shabaab.

Most of the AU soldiers manning the base were from Uganda, according to military sources.

Looting

Witnesses said the attack started with a suicide car bombing. The car rammed into the entrance of the military base and exploded. Militants armed with guns and explosives then stormed the base on foot, followed by others in vehicles.

"I saw 20 dead AU soldiers ... and several other wounded soldiers were captured by al-Shabaab," said Ahmed Hagi, a witness who entered the base.

Al-Shabaab said more than 80 AU soldiers were killed.

"Others threw themselves into a nearby river," Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Mus'ab, a spokesperson for the group, said on pro-insurgent radio station Andalus.

Several al-Shabaab fighters were also killed, local official Abdiqani Hashi said.

Al-Shabaab had previously blown up a nearby bridge to prevent the AU military contingent from sending reinforcements to Janaale, according to Hashi.

Locals said they heard militants chant "Allahu akbar" and saw smoke rising from the facility, where attackers were reported to be looting equipment.

Al-Shabaab had already been in control of parts of Janaale.

More than 50 Burundian AU soldiers were killed in an al-Shabaab attack on a southern military base in June.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  somalia  |  east africa

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