Al-Shabab militants raided an African Union military base in the village of El-Baraf in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region early Tuesday, killing unspecified number of African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops.
El-Baraf, approximately 150 kilometers north of Mogadishu in middle Shabelle region, is one of the forward operating bases of African Union forces from Burundi serving under African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
Reports say the militants briefly seized the military base before withdrawing from it. Several AU soldiers were injured in the attack described as one of the deadliest ever since the mission changed its name and operational structures last month.
The Mayor of El-Baraf, Abdullahi Haji Muhumed, said the militants started their attack with two suicide truck bombs. He said the militants then fought their way onto the base.
In a statement later today, African Union (AU) Chairperson Moussa Faki condemned the attack by A-Shabab and paid tribute to Burundian soldiers who lost their lives in the attack and as well wished the injured quick recovery.
“The Chairperson reiterates that this hineous attack will not lessen the determination of ATMIS forces and reaffirms the continued and unwaivering committment of AU to support the Somali government and the people of the Republic of Burundi, and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded as a result of the attack” AU statement reads.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Al-Shabab claimed the killing of 173 African Union forces and took several others as captives during the attack.
The U.N. Security Council, which authorized the new mission called the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), gives it a mandate to reduce the threat posed by al-Shabab, support the capacity-building of Somali security forces, and conduct a phased handover of security responsibilities to Somalia. The mission has until the end of 2024 to operate in the country.