Militants from al-Shabaab have claimed to have killed as many as 43 Ethiopian soldiers, after storming an African Union base in Somalia.
Somalia’s al-Shabaab militant group said it rammed a suicide car bomb into an African Union military base, stormed inside and killed 43 Ethiopian soldiers on Thursday.
Residents near the base in the central town of Halgan said they heard a huge explosion and then heavy exchanges of gunfire shortly before dawn. Shots ran out at least an hour after the initial blast, they added.
There was no immediate comment from the African Union’s AMISOM force, which is made up of troops from African nations supporting Somalia’s Western-backed government and army in the fight against the al-Qaeda-linked militants.
“We understand there are casualties on both sides. AU forces fought back fiercely and repulsed al-Shabaab,” Somali military officer Major Abdifatah Elmi told Reuters from Bulaburde town in the region. But he said he did not have figures.
“Several residents were injured by stray bullets,” he said.
AMISOM usually says it is up to troop-contributing countries to announce casualties. In the past, casualty figures cited by al Shabaab have been much higher than official numbers.