Somalia’s al-Shabab militants claim western forces have attacked one of the group’s houses in a coastal town south of the capital, Mogadishu. No military operating in the region has confirmed involvement in the operation, which follows a terrorist siege on a mall in neighboring Kenya that is blamed on al-Shabab.
Witnesses in the al-Shabab controlled town of Barawe told VOA Somali foreign forces attacked a militant safe house around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
They report some of the soldiers descended from helicopters while others may have arrived on boats.
Al-Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab confirmed the incident in a recorded statement.
“Last night a group of fighters docked at Barawe sea port and stormed at one of the safe house occupied by some of our fighters,” he said. “Our fighters saw these troops, fighting broke out and we repelled them.”
Musab said one militant was killed in the attack, and compared the raid to a failed attempt by French special forces to free a hostage in the town of Bula Marer in January. At least one French soldier was killed in that operation.
U.S. special forces also have carried out raids in Somalia in the past. In 2012, an elite team of commandos rescued two aid workers held in central Somalia, and killed nine abductors.
Under pressure from regional military forces, al-Shabab has been driven out of major cities in Somalia, but it still controls towns and territory, mostly in the south central regions.
The Islamist group has claimed responsibility for a four-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya’s capital Nairobi last month that killed more than 60 people.
Al-Shabab’s leaders said the attack was retaliation for Kenya’s ongoing military operations targeting the group in southern Somalia.