Al-Shabab militants assaulted an African Union base in southern Somalia Tuesday, killing at least 19 soldiers and reportedly taking others hostage.
The death toll was provided by a high-ranking Somali official who told VOA that a similar number of AU troops were abducted by Al-Shabab. A local resident also reported seeing captured soldiers. There was no indication where the troops might have been taken.
Gunmen attacked the base at Janaale in the Lower Shabelle region with a car bomb at about 4:30 a.m. local time Tuesday. Al-Shabab gunmen then entered the camp, triggering a gunfight with AU soldiers.
Witnesses told VOA many of the soldiers fled. The AU Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, says its troops regained full control of the base after making a "tactical withdrawal."
The attack occurred exactly one year after Al-Shabab's longtime leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed by a U.S. drone strike.
In June, al-Shabab attacked another AMISOM base in the same region, killing more than 50 soldiers from Burundi.
AMISOM soldiers have been fighting Al-Shabab in Somalia since 2007. AMISOM forces and Somali troops have recaptured large parts of Somalia from the al-Qaida-linked militants in recent years, but attacks have continued.
VOA's Somali Service contributed to this report.