Somalia’s al Shabaab says it storms southern military base, kills 27 troops

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In this photo of Thursaday, Oct.21, 2010, Al-Shabaab fighters display weopons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia A failed offensive by Somalia's strongest insurgent group has left at least 20 people dead as the Islamist group attempted to recapture a district in southwestern Somalia from government forces, an official and a witness said Friday. The attempt by al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked Somali militia, to win back a district near Kenya's border left 12 people injured, said local resident Osman Gelle. Gelle said the violence, which started Thursday afternoon, was the worst he had seen in more than a year. Somali government forces took over the Beled-Hawa district last Sunday in an offensive launched to take back areas held by militants. Al-Shabab militants took control of the area in Jan. 2009 after Ethiopian troops, who had entered to support Somalia's transitional government, withdrew from Somalia. The militia group briefly lost control of the town in Aug. 2009 to Ahlu Sunna Waljamea, a moderate Islamist group allied to the government. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)

MOGADISHU – Fighters of the al Shabaab group attacked a military base with a suicide car bomb in the south of Somalia, killing 27 soldiers, the group said on Monday, a blast heard by residents of a nearby town.
The attack follows a June attack on the base by al Shabaab that wounded seven soldiers. The group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.

There was no immediate comment from government officials about the attack on the base in Baar Sanguni, about 50 km (31 miles) distant from the port city of Kismayu.

“We first attacked the base with a suicide car bomb and then stormed,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations. “We killed 27 soldiers and took the base. Some soldiers fled into the jungles.”

The military was sending reinforcements to the base following the reports of an explosion and heavy fighting after the rebel attack, one official said.

“We have sent reinforcement to the base,” Majo Mohamud Aden, a Somali military officer, told Reuters from Kismayu.

“We understand there was an explosion and heavy fighting between al Shabaab, who attacked the base, and the Somali forces. We have no details so far.”

Residents of the town of Jamame, 70 km (44 miles) away from Kismayu, said they heard the blast, followed by gunfire.

“We heard a huge blast after early morning prayers. Then heavy exchange of gunfire followed. It was in the direction of Baar Sanguni,” Osman Abdullahi told Reuters.
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Reporting by Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh; Editing by George Obulutsa and Clarence Fernandez