Dozens dead in So­mali gun­fight

CityPress - - News -

A gun bat­tle be­tween al-Shabaab fight­ers and African Union (AU) peace­keep­ers left dozens of peo­ple dead in south­west­ern So­ma­lia on Fri­day.

Mil­i­tants from the al-Qaeda-linked group stormed the base in the Horn of Africa, blast­ing their way into the com­pound and ex­chang­ing fire with peace­keep­ers, a So­mali mil­i­tary of­fi­cial told Al Jazeera.

The base is run by Kenyan troops who are part of the AU force in the town of El-Ade, not far from the Kenyan bor­der.

Al-Shabaab later re­leased a state­ment say­ing it had killed at least 63 sol­diers in the bloody at­tack.

But the Kenyan mil­i­tary said that the rebels had at­tacked So­mali gov­ern­ment sol­diers who were sta­tioned near the AU base run by the Kenyan con­tin­gent.

The AU also de­nied the claim on Fri­day af­ter­noon that 63 peo­ple were killed, adding that the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties was un­known.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Paul Nju­guna, spokesper­son for the AU mis­sion in So­ma­lia, told Al Jazeera that “ev­ery­one is fa­mil­iar with al-Shabaab’s pro­pa­ganda”.

“They will claim that they have taken over the camp, even though they have not. Once we come to an end of this bat­tle, we will have in­for­ma­tion on the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties and a proper ac­count of what hap­pened,” Nju­guna said.

“Al-Shabaab mili­tia at­tacked the So­mali Na­tional Army (SNA) camp, which is in close prox­im­ity to the Kenya De­fence Forces (KDF) camp at El-Ade in So­ma­lia. The SNA camp was over­run and the KDF troops un­der Ami­som coun­ter­at­tacked in sup­port of SNA,” said David Obonyo, spokesper­son for the Kenyan mil­i­tary.

This is not the first time that al-Shabaab has at­tacked an AU mil­i­tary base in So­ma­lia. The group launched two at­tacks on Ami­som troop bases last year – one manned by troops from Bu­rundi in June, and an­other on Ugan­dan troops in Septem­ber that left at least 50 dead.

re­porter

– Staff

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