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Al-Shabab Attacks Airbase Used by US Military


Italian and Somali security forces are seen near armored vehicles at the scene of an attack on a Italian military convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sept. 30, 2019.

Fern Robinson, Meghan Duzor contributed to this report.

Al-Shabab militants launched an attack on an airbase used by the U.S. military supporting Somali forces, security sources said.

The militants detonated explosions from two car bombs at Ballidogle airport in Lower Shabelle region, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Mogadishu. A local source reported hearing two explosions in the vicinity of the airport.

A U.S. Africa Command statement said no U.S. or Somali forces were injured in the attack. It said in response to the assault, the U.S Africa Command conducted two airstrikes and used small arms fire to target al-Shabab militants, killing 10 of them and destroying one vehicle involved in the attack.

The commander of Somali forces trained by the U.S. military in Somalia, Major Abdirahman Omar Jeeni-Qaar, said all of the al-Shabab attackers were killed.

"All the men they sent, none of them escaped," he said in an interview with VOA Somali. He denied an al-Shabab claim that hundreds of soldiers were killed in the assault.

Following the attack, al-Shabab issued a statement claiming responsibility for "storming" the base.

Somali national army radio, in a twitter post, said the militants detonated car bombs at the outer perimeter of the base. It said the Somali soldiers and their U.S. partners "repelled" the attack.

The U.S. Ambassador to Somalia condemned the attack and praised Somali security forces for their actions. "We commend the Somali security forces who repelled the attack against the Somali National Army (SNA) Base in Baledogle, Lower Shabelle region," a statement said.

The Associated Press reports the U.S. uses the base to launch drone attacks on al-Shabab targets.

Meanwhile, a car bomb exploded in Mogadishu, the capital, targeting a military convoy near the Jaalle Siyad military academy. Witnesses said the suicide car bomb detonated near the academy, which is used for training Somali security forces by the international forces, including the European Union.

Reuters reports the explosion missed European Union peacekeepers, but injured Somali civilians.