Ethiopia says its forces in Somalia thwarted an al-Shabab attack on a base Wednesday in the Somali town of Doolow.
“The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) stopped the attackers in their tracks before they could wreak havoc,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.
It added: “The ENDF neutralised suicide bombers and destroyed weapons to be used by the terrorist group.”
Earlier, residents in Doolow reported that two explosions targeted an Ethiopian military base outside the town on Wednesday, just after 10 a.m. local time.
A resident who did not want to be identified for security reasons said the first explosion occurred at a checkpoint for the entrance of the base, while the second explosion took place away from the location of the first one.
A purported video clip recorded by a second resident shows a white plume of smoke rising from the site of the first explosion. As the witness recorded, the sound of the second explosion could be heard.
Ethiopia keeps thousands of troops in Somalia to fight al-Shabab and protect its border. The troops serve as part of the Africa Union (AU) mission to support the Somali government. Ethiopia also has non-AU forces based on a bilateral agreement with the Somali government, to fight al-Shabab and protect its border.
In a statement, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they sent two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices driven by suicide bombers.
The government-owned Somali National News Agency (SONNA) reported that the first vehicle exploded at the entrance of the base, causing “significant damage” and injuring four soldiers.
Osman Nuh Haji, a Somali regional security official, denied the report, telling VOA Somali that there were no casualties among soldiers or civilians, and that troops destroyed a vehicle before it reached the base.
He said a car with explosives approached the base manned by Somali and Ethiopian forces.
“The checkpoint is far from the base. When the car failed to stop, the soldiers fired shots in order to stop it,” Haji said. “When that did not succeed and they realized that it’s carrying explosives they destroyed it with a missile.”
The base is located at the town’s airport. Haji said the vehicle’s intention was to enter the base and the airport and to cause maximum damage to the troops and planes.
Tigist Geme contributed to this report.