Local officials and security sources said al-Shabaab fighters stormed an African Union military base in the village of al-Baraf in the central Shabele region of Somalia early Tuesday.
Officials told VOA Somali that the militants had briefly occupied the hideout before leaving the base. State media said Burundian soldiers foiled an attack on the base.
Al-Baraf Mayor Abdullahi Haji Muhammad said the militants launched their attack with two suicide truck bombs. Thereafter the terrorists made their way to the base, he said.
Al-Shabaab claimed the killing of 173 African Union forces. The group also took responsibility for capturing AU forces as prisoners of war. Both the claims could not be independently verified. AU force headquarters and Somali military officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
In an interview with the VOA, Muhammad, who was not in the village at the time of the attack, said he was told that there had been “many deaths” among Burundian forces, but could not give an exact figure.
“This kind of fighting has never happened in this area,” he said. “It was a heavy fight.”
He said two civilians were also killed and more than 10 others were injured.
Muhammad confirmed to the VOA that al-Shabaab terrorists had withdrawn from the base. He also said the airstrike targeted militants as they were leaving the base, but did not specify who was responsible for the attacks.
El-Baraf is one of the forward operations bases of African Union forces from Burundi, about 150 km north of Mogadishu.
The incident marked the first major al-Shabaab attack on AU forces since the mission changed its name and operational structure last month.
The United Nations Security Council, which authorized a new mission called the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), mandates it to reduce the threat posed by al-Shabaab, support capacity-building of Somali security forces, and conduct phased operations. Is. The mission entrusted with security responsibility to Somalia has until the end of 2024 to work in the country.