At least 15 Somali soldiers have lost their lives in a car bomb attack by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants northeast of Somalia’s capital, military sources say.
According to the sources, the incident occurred on Sunday morning in the town of Runirgood, about 180 kilometers to the northeast of the country’s capital, Mogadishu.
Major Abdullahi Omar, a Somali army officer, said the group used an explosive-laden car to smash into a military base. Fierce fighting followed when gunmen stormed the base, he said, adding that at least 15 soldiers died.
“The soldiers (at the base) were few and there were no AMISOM or other military nearby for reinforcement. We killed more than 10 militants in fighting on Saturday and Sunday,” Omar said, referring to the African Union Mission to Somalia.
The residents of Runirgood said they had seen dead bodies of both al-Shabaab militants and Somali government soldiers in the town.
A spokesman with the Takfiri group, however, claimed they had killed 32 Somali soldiers and captured three vehicles in the area. He also claimed that the militant group managed to recapture the town of Runirgood just one day after it had been retaken by government forces.
Somalia has been the scene of militancy by al-Shabab since 2006. The Takfiri terrorist group has been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government forces and AMISOM, which is largely made up of troops from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.
Al-Shabab pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012.