Somali rebel group al-Shabab says it has killed 43 soldiers in an attack on a base of Ethiopian troops serving with the African Union’s AMISOM force Somalia.
The town of Halgan, where Thursday’s attack occurred, lies in the Hiraan region of central Somalia, about 300km north of the capital Mogadishu.
“Our fighters stormed the Halgan base of AMISOM … We killed 43 AU soldiers from Ethiopia in the fighting,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operations spokesperson, told Reuters news agency.
He said “several” al-Shabab fighters had died in the raid but he did not give a figure.
“It was a huge blast. It destroyed the gate and parts of the base,” he said.
Residents said they heard a huge explosion at the base and a heavy exchange of gunfire shortly before dawn.
“Al-Shabab says they drove a car equipped with a suicide bomb into the base followed by armed men storming the base and killing the soldiers,” said Mohamed Adow, reporting from Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
An AMISOM spokesman said that there was “an attempted attack” at the base in Halgan.
He said AMISOM forces were still in charge of the base, according to Adow.
Al-Shabab often launches gun and bomb attacks on officials, Somali security forces and AMISOM in an effort to topple the government and impose its own brand of government on Somalia.
In January, Kenyan troops serving with AMISOM suffered heavy losses when al-Shabab made a dawn raid on their camp in El Adde, near the Kenyan border.
Al-Shabab said it killed more than 100 soldiers but Kenya gave no exact casualty figure.