17 Killed as Somali Army Clash With Al-Shabaab Militants

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At least 17 people have died in an attack by fighters from the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab organisation on a military base outside of a town in central Somalia, a resident told newsmen.

The incident on Friday took place in Masagawa, which nearly 300 kilometres north of Mogadishu.

“I have seen 17 dead people including the attackers and the attacked. The fighting has moved into the forest. The town is calm now and under government control,” Hussein Nur, a resident of Masagawa, said.

Captain Abdullahi Mohamed, a military officer in Masagawa, confirmed the attack and said 12 al-Shabaab fighters had died, but he did not know how many troops were dead.

“Fierce fighting went on for hours on the edge of the town. So far, I know we lost soldiers but I have no exact figure. We repulsed al-Shabaab and now we are pursuing them in the forest,” Mohamed said.

On Twitter, the Somalia National Army claimed to have stopped an attack on the town itself and to have killed some al-Shabaab members, though it did not specify how many.

A facility holding Ugandan personnel from an African Union peacekeeping operation was attacked by al-Shabaab a few days prior near Bulamarer, 130 kilometres (80 miles) southwest of the capital.

The rebels have been attempting to overthrow Somalia’s central government since 2006 in order to impose control based on its rigid interpretation of Islamic law.

Al-Shabab was placed on the back foot by a government response last year, but the group has since carried out large strikes against hotels, military installations, and government buildings.

Targeting soldiers who had returned from training in Eritrea, the organisation claimed in a statement that it had killed 73 soldiers in the attack.

Al-Shabaab rebels on Friday attacked a military camp holding Ugandan peacekeeping personnel from the African Union mission in Somalia, killing many.

A base for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) was targeted by insurgents in Bulamarer, 130 kilometres (80 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.

“There was an attack this morning at our base… by elements of al-Shabaab but we are waiting for official communication from ATMIS headquarters,” said Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) deputy spokesman Deo Akiiki.


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