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At Least 5 Somali Soldiers Killed in Related Attacks

FILE - A Somali soldier patrols a street following a bombing in Afgoye, Somalia, Oct. 19, 2016.
FILE - A Somali soldier patrols a street following a bombing in Afgoye, Somalia, Oct. 19, 2016.

At least five soldiers and a suicide bomber were killed in two related incidents in Somalia early Friday, according to Somali government and security officials.

Somali authorities say the bomber rammed a minivan full of explosives into the main gate of a military base in the town of Afgoye, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of the capital, Mogadishu. It was the second suicide strike against Somali security forces in 24 hours.

"The guards at the base prevented him from entering inside and he blew himself up at the gate, killing one soldier," said Abdifitah Haji Abdulle, deputy governor for the Lower Shabelle region. "The bomber and the soldier died on the spot."

Three other soldiers were injured in the initial attack, a police commander told local radio.

Later, a truck carrying the wounded soldiers from the military base struck a roadside bomb, according to security officials, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. They said at least four more soldiers were killed and another two were injured. It was not clear whether any of those killed were among the initially injured.

Abdulle could not confirm the death toll, but said the number was "quite significant."

Somali troops stationed at the base were trained by the United Arab Emirates.

On Thursday, at least two soldiers were killed and five other people wounded in an al-Shabab suicide car bomb attack at a checkpoint 15 kilometers outside Mogadishu.

Second attack Friday

In another attack Friday, heavily armed militants briefly took control of Bal'ad, a town about 30 kilometers from Mogadishu.

Residents said they saw militants enter early Friday after forcing Somali government soldiers to withdraw.

Residents reported that the Somali troops, along with troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), remained in the southern corner of the town while militants advanced.

"They entered the town from three directions and took positions at the police headquarters and the district headquarters. They hoisted their black flag on top of some of the buildings," one witness said.

The insurgents later voluntarily withdrew as government soldiers and troops from AMISOM sent reinforcements near the town.