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22 Somali Soldiers Killed in Al-Shabab Attack

Lower Shabelle, Shabelle and Bay regions of Somalia
Lower Shabelle, Shabelle and Bay regions of Somalia

Militant group al-Shabab attacked and recaptured a town in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region early Sunday morning, killing 22 Somali soldiers, an official told VOA on condition of anonymity.

The militants claimed that they had killed more than 32 soldiers including a senior military officer in the town of Runirgood, a day after the town had fallen to government forces.

The commander of Somalia's 12th sector, Mohamed Mohamud Sanay told VOA his soldiers were ambushed and eight of them were killed, while his forces killed 12 al-Shabab militants. The commander said a senior officer was wounded and is now missing.

A Somali official who asked not to be named told VOA the death toll among soldiers was 22 and 10 others were missing and feared to be captured by the militants.

Suicide car bomb

Witnesses say the militants used a suicide car bomb in the assault and seized at least three military vehicles.

The Somali commander Mohamed Mohamud Sanay said his forces managed to caputre Runirgood Saturday without the help from AMISOM, the African Union troops in Somalia.

He said the plan was "his forces take the town and AMISOM forces come with reinforcement”, but that reinforcement did not come.

“AMISOM and the top Somali military commanders bear the responsibility for today’s failure, because there is lack of cooperation between the two forces,” he said.

In 2011, AMISOM and Somali national Army forced al-Shabab out of areas south of Mogadishu, but the militants still control some rural areas and carry out deadly attacks in the capital and other areas in central and southern Somalia.