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Al-Shabab attacks base in Somalia, kills 15

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Al-Shabab militants (file photo)

The Takfiri al-Shabab terrorist group has attacked a military base near Somalia’s capital, capturing the base and a nearby village and killing at least 15 soldiers.

Somali officials said on Friday that the militants used guns and car bombs in an early-morning attack to take control of the base and a nearby village, Barire, 50 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu.

The militants also took 11 pickup trucks with machine guns mounted on them, known as “technicals,” claimed a spokesman for al-Shabab, who claimed that other soldiers had fled and the militant group was now in control of the base and the village.

A file photo of al-Shabab militants in the town of Elasha Biyaha, southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu (via AFP)

A Somali military officer put the number of the dead at 15. Al-Shabab claimed 21 had been killed.

“There was a battalion of soldiers but it was a fierce fighting; twin suicide car bombs and hand-to-hand fighting,” Captain Osman Ali told Reuters.

“The attacked soldiers were Somali military and the special forces trained by the US called Danab. There were neither AMISOM nor other foreigners there,” Ali added, referring to the African Union peacekeeping troops.

Reinforcements were being sent, he said.

Meanwhile, a car bomb blast has killed five people in Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu, ending a period of calm in the city.

Police said an explosive-laden car blew up outside a restaurant in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyne district on late Thursday.

Bystanders look at the wreckage of a van after a car bomb exploded in the center of Mogadishu on September 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Captain Mohamed Hussein said those killed in the blast had been mostly civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. However al-Shabab often carries out such attacks.

A period of calm had begun in Mogadishu with large security presence in the city following a series of attacks by al-Shabab militants, who are linked to al-Qaida and fighting the Somali government and African Union forces in the country.

Bystanders and rescue workers prepare to carry a body from the scene after a car bomb exploded in the center of Mogadishu on September 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Despite being ousted from large parts of the south and central Somalia, al-Shabab continues deadly attacks across the country, which has been ravaged by decades of war and poverty.

The militant group aims to oust the western-backed government in Mogadishu and drive out African Union peacekeeping troops. It has been carrying out militancy since 2006.

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