Somali Islamists Battle Ethiopian Troops With Dozens Killedby
Al-Shabaab, African Union force issue conflicting death tolls
Ethiopian forces received helicopter support, witness says
Al-Qaeda-linked militants said they raided a base used by Ethiopian troops in central Somalia, killing at least 60 people. An African peacekeeping force said it repulsed the Islamists’ assault and inflicted more than 100 casualties.
Al-Shabaab detonated a car-bomb at the base in the town of Halgan in Hiran region, before fighters stormed the facility, the group said in a statement published on the website of Radio Andalus, a broadcaster that supports its insurgency. The militants said 16 of their members died, including the suicide bomber.
The multinational African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, said it killed 110 of the militants, including one “white foreign fighter,” according to a statement on its Twitter account. They also seized a weapons cash including assault rifles and anti-aircraft guns. The Ethiopian forces received support from helicopters during the fighting, local resident and eyewitness Said Ali said by phone from Halgan.
Ethiopian soldiers are part of Amisom, which is trying to restore security to the Horn of Africa country, where civil war has raged for more than two decades. Amisom spokesman Joe Kibet said by text message that there had been an “attempted attack,” its troops were in control and the mission was awaiting further details. He didn’t answer follow-up calls on the reported killing of al-Shabaab fighters.
The raid follows a major January attack by al-Shabaab on a base used by Kenyan soldiers near the border at El Adde in which the Islamists said 100 troops were killed. Kenya’s government acknowledged there were fatalities without giving a death toll.