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AU: Over 100 Shabab Militants Killed in Base Attack


The African Union force in Somalia says soldiers killed more than 100 al-Shabab militants who attacked a military base Thursday.

Officials and residents say the militants set off a car bomb and then tried to storm the Ethiopian base in the village of Halgan, about 260 kilometers north of Mogadishu.

Colonel Joseph Kibet, a spokesman for the AU force AMISOM, told VOA's Somali service that Ethiopian and Somali government troops drove back the pre-dawn assault. "The initial reports say at least 110 militants were killed in the attack," he said.

The Somali Ministry of Defense says at least 120 militants were killed.

The chairman of the village, Guhad Abdi Warsame, told VOA that al-Shabab launched two attacks, one targeting a housing area for Ethiopian troops, the other a base for the Somali government. He said both attacks failed and that the attackers' "bodies lie in the village."

Residents have confirmed that Ethiopian and government troops are in control of Halgan.

Al-Shabab's claims

Al-Shabab's official radio station, Andalus, says the group killed 43 Ethiopian troops in the attack and destroyed the base. The group told Reuters that it has lost 16 of its fighters.

Residents said at least 5 civilians were killed during the crossfire.

Suicide car bombs coupled with assaults on bases have been the hallmark of al-Shabab raids against AU bases in Somalia over the past year.

Previous attacks killed 54 Burundian soldiers in Leego town, 19 Ugandans in Janaale and more than 100 Kenyans in El-Adde.

The AU force been stationed in Somalia since 2007 to fight al-Shabab. The group, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaida, wants to overthrow the Somali government and turn Somalia into a strict Islamist state.

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