3 Car Bombs Strike Somalia Base
According to Reuters, a government military base in South Somalia was struck by multiple car bombs, then attacked al Shabaab, a group linked to Al Qaeda, and are now claiming responsibility for the attack. Dozens of soldiers have been killed in the assault, but the base is still secure.
The bombs exploded outside the base after troops behind sandbags fired at the vehicles during a midmorning attack, according to a military officer from the base. This base is located in an agricultural district along the Shabelle River, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of the Capital, Mogadishu.
“There are casualties from al Shabaab and government forces, but we have no exact figure. Al Shabaab cut off some of the private telecommunications,” added Captain Hussein Ali, a military officer in another town in the same region.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had killed 50 soldiers and two of its fighters had died.
“Two mujahideen driving two car bombs, one after the other, entered the Somali base in Awdheegle district today. We killed 50 government soldiers and burnt their vehicles,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman.
At this point, the jihadist group and government officials are giving very different accounts of the attacks and casualty figures, but time will sort this out.
The jihadist group and government officials tend to give sharply differing casualty figures for attacks.
Another military officer, who declined to be named, confirmed the attack but could also not give details on the casualties.
Last week, Somali government forces had captured most parts of Awdheegle district.
“We heard two huge blasts and gunfire from the direction of the Somali military base. I saw several soldiers running away from the base to escape, but we cannot know how many were killed,” elder Aden Abdullahi told Reuters.
Al Shabaab, a terrorist radical Islamic group, is fighting the weak, U.N.-backed Somali government and its allies, it intends to place strict interpretation of Islamic law, much the same way the Taliban did when they ran Afghanistan.
This group was forced out of the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu in 2011, since then has lost control of most of its strongholds, but still is a threat with small groups still scattered around the nation and in neighboring Kenya. They frequently attack African Union-mandated peacekeeping forces with bombs.
Somalia has been in a civil war since 1992, when clan-based warlords overthrow a dictator, then turned on each other. Since then other radical Islamist groups have come into the fray, making things continue to worsen for the people there.
Shopkeeper and mother-of-four Halima Farah told Reuters from Awdheegle that government troops were in control of the town after the attack. “We have now come out of the houses,” Farah told Reuters by phone. “Today was the worst day for this town.
“We believe both the militants and government suffered great losses of lives today but we cannot see their casualties. Stray bullets killed people in their houses,” she added, saying a relative of hers died after being hit in the head.