Al Shabaab rebels attack African Union peacekeepers in Somalia, high death toll feared

Al Shabaab rebels attack African Union peacekeepers in Somalia, death toll feared high

African Union peacekeepers. reuters file

On Friday, Al Shabaab rebels attacked a military camp housing personnel of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, with serious casualties on both sides, according to a Somali captain.

Militants attacked the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) post at Bulmarer, 130 kilometers (80 mi) southwest of Mogadishu.

“Our base was attacked this morning by elements of Al Shabaab but we are awaiting official communication from ATMIS headquarters,” said Dev Akiki, deputy spokesman for the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF).

ATMIS is supporting the Federal Government of Somalia in its fight against the Islamist group. According to a tweet by the organisation, the mission was examining the security situation.

In a statement, Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings that killed 137 soldiers.

There was no immediate official confirmation of casualties, and the group’s estimates sometimes differ from those issued by the authorities.

The militants attacked an ATMIS base and a nearby Somali military base, a Somali military commander named Abdullahi told Reuters from the Lower Shabelle region.

“This led to a fierce battle for hours. All groups, including Al Shabaab, have suffered heavy losses.

Residents of the town said they were awakened by the sound of large explosions and heavy gunfire.

“Now we see Al Shabaab in the town. We cannot know how many died. We are no longer hearing any shots from ATMIS and the government,” said Rukiya Farah, a local resident.

Since 2006, the militant group has been fighting to topple the government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

A government pushback since last year has seen the group’s control over vast areas of land erode. But it is still capable of carrying out significant strikes on government, commercial and military targets.

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