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Shabab Militants Kill 6 in Central Somalia

  • VOA News

Somali soldier after explosion near Al Mukaram Hotel, Mogadishu, March 15, 2014.

Somali soldier after explosion near Al Mukaram Hotel, Mogadishu, March 15, 2014.

An overnight raid by militants in central Somalia has killed 11 government and African Union soldiers and wounded at least 18 others.

Somali officials blame militant group al-Shabab for the attack in the town of Buloburde, which the Somali National Army and the African Union Mission in Somalia recaptured from al-Shabab last week.

AMISOM spokesman Colonel Ali Hamoud tells VOA Somali Service a man drove a car past a hotel checkpoint around 2:20 a.m. local time.

"AMISOM troops tried to, you know, stop it by firing, but it did not stop and then it exploded when we had our troops gathering."

The attack triggered a heavy gunbattle at the hotel, which is used by Somali and AMISOM officials.

The governor of Somalia's Hiran region, who was at the hotel, says the dead soldiers include six Somalis and five men from Djibouti who were part of AMISOM.

Abdi Farah Laqanyo also says he believes eight al-Shabab fighters were killed in the attack, most of whom he said were quickly taken away by the militants.

A former Hiran governor, Yusuf Ahmed, says soldiers captured another seven attackers alive.

The Somali army and troops from AMISOM recaptured Buloburde last Thursday in what AMISOM called a "major victory."

The town is 200 kilometers north of Mogadishu. AMISOM said it was a supply center for al-Shabab and home to hundreds of the group's fighters.

Somali and AMISOM forces have been pushing an offensive in the past few weeks to oust the al-Qaida-linked militants from areas they control.

Al-Shabab at one point held large parts of Somalia, but was pushed out of major cities by the AU forces and Somali government. The group has continued to carry out attacks, including a recent assault on the presidential palace in Mogadishu.