At least 15 people were killed early Monday morning in the central Somalia town of Ba’adweyene in the most recent attack by al-Shabab militants.
The insurgents’ assault on a military base on Ba’adweyne’s outskirts left four soldiers dead, along with 11 civilians who had joined the battle, an official with Somalia’s Ministry of Information told VOA Somali on Tuesday.
The ministry also said in a statement that 51 militants were killed and six were captured, with regional officials sharing photos of the militants on social media. The statement said an al-Shabab commander was captured in the fighting.
Meanwhile, al-Shabab claimed on its website Tuesday that it had overrun the military base, killing 53 soldiers and seizing six vehicles outfitted with guns. The militant group published photos of weapons purportedly seized from the base, including anti-aircraft and B-10 recoilless rifles mounted on vehicles.
VOA Somali could not independently verify the exact death toll from the fighting.
Somali government officials did not say how many militants were involved in the attack on the base outside Ba’adweyne, a town 200 kilometers from the regional capital, Galkayo. A ministry official said the militants apparently arrived at the scene on foot, killing the four soldiers.
Armed residents joined in the fighting and helped troops regain control, several residents told VOA Somali in phone calls. The residents are not being named for security reasons.
Meanwhile, the government commended the residents for supporting government troops in battling al-Shabab.
“This is a testament that if the public supports the army, enemy attacks and plots can be stopped,” the ministry statement read.
Al-Shabab aims to overthrow the internationally supported government and establish an extremist Islamic state in Somalia.
This report originated in the VOA Somali Service, with Harun Maruf reporting from Washington and Abdiwahid Maolin Isak from Galkayo, Somalia.