Somalia’s al-Shabab militants attack military base outside Mogadishu, claim to kill 17 soldiers
Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters attacked a military base outside the capital Mogadishu using car bombs and guns, killing 17 soldiers and taking control of the base and a nearby town, the group said on Friday.
Residents and officials confirmed the attack, but gave no details on casualties. The attack took place a day after seven people were killed in a car bombing near the city’s marketplace.
“After morning prayer today, two mujahideen rammed into Barire military base with suicide car bombs. We killed 17 soldiers and took seven technical vehicles,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman said on Friday, referring to pickup trucks mounted with machine-guns.
“The other soldiers ran helter skelter into the woods. We now control the base and the village.”
Barire is 50km southwest of Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab aims to topple the government in Mogadishu and impose its strict owns interpretation of Islam. Somalia has been at war since 1991 when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
The al-Qaeda-linked group was driven out of the capital in 2011, but still carries out frequent attacks on security and government targets, but also on civilians. They also target African Union peacekeeping troops.
Ali Nur, the deputy governor of Lower Shabelle region where Barire is located, confirmed the fighting but gave no more details on casualties. Residents in Barire also confirmed the attack.
“First we heard two huge blasts at the base and then heavy exchange of gunfire followed. Now it looks like the fighting died down,” Ali Farah said.
Two weeks ago, al-Shabab attacked an army base at a town near the border with Kenya, while three weeks ago they struck another in the southern port city of Kismayu, killing at least 43 people in both incidents.