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Somali Militants Attack Government Soldiers


Somali policeman runs through wreckage outside the Sahafi Hotel, Mogadishu, Nov. 1, 2015.

Somali militants from the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab have ambushed government soldiers south of the Somali capital, killing more than a dozen military personnel.

Al-Shabab put the death toll from Monday's attack at 30, while a Somali military official says at least 15 government soldiers were killed.

Militants say they also seized several military trucks in the ambush, which took place nearly 100 kilometers south of the capital, Mogadishu.

The attack took place one day after the same group of extremists killed 12 people at a Mogadishu hotel.

The members of the United Nations Security Council condemned the hotel attack and "reiterated their determination to support Somalia's transition to greater peace and stability. They underlined that neither this nor any other terrorist attack would weaken that determination."

The Council also praised the response by Somalia's army, which killed all of the attackers, and stated that "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations" is one of the most serious threats to global peace.

Somali authorities said militants set off a car bomb Sunday morning at the entrance to the Sahafi Hotel. Gunmen then stormed the site, which is popular with government officials and business executives. The dead included two lawmakers, a military commander and the owner of the hotel.

Among those killed was General Abdikarim Yusuf Dhagabadan, a former army commander who led the offensive that forced al-Shabab to retreat from Mogadishu in August 2011. General Dhagabadan previously survived several al-Shabab attempts on his life.

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu-Musab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement Sunday.

In recent months, al-Shabab has blown up another Mogadishu hotel, overrun three African Union peacekeepers' bases in Somalia and detonated a bomb on the grounds of Somalia's presidential palace.

The group controlled most of southern Somalia as recently as 2010, but was pushed into the countryside by African Union and Somali government forces. The militants carry out frequent attacks, often targeting government officials and African Union troops.

The group seeks to impose a strict form of Ilamic law on the country and has frequently beheaded, stoned to death or amputated the limbs of people accused of various crimes.

VOA's Somali service contributed to this report. Some information is from Reuters and AP.