UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The radical Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack on a US base in Somalia on Monday, as the European Union confirmed a separate attack on a convoy of Italian military advisers.
The insurgents targeted the US base in Bledogle, about 110 kilometers northwest of the capital Mogadishu, with explosives before firing at the military compound.
“In the early hours of Monday morning, a unit of elite soldiers carried out a bold raid on the US military base” in Baledogle, the statement said.
“After penetrating the perimeter of the heavily fortified base, the Mujahideen broke into the military compound and clashed with the Crusaders in a heavy exchange of fire.”
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Baledogle is a major launching pad for US drone operations against al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group that controls large swathes of Somalia and the Islamic State branch in Somalia.
“There were two big explosions, one is stronger than the second. There was also a heavy exchange of fire after the blasts, but we don’t know the details,” witness Mohammad Aden told AFP by telephone.
– A car bomb attack on a convoy –
In a separate attack on Monday, a Somali security official confirmed that EU military advisers training the Somali National Army were attacked by a car bomb in Mogadishu.
“A car bomb targeted EU military advisers on the industrial road. A car packed with explosives hit a convoy,” said Somali officer Omar Abikar.
The European Training Mission confirmed in a statement that the convoy “was bombed” while returning from the army headquarters.
“No ETSF soldiers were injured in the bombing. Two vehicles were damaged,” the statement said.
The mission is providing military advice and training to the Somali army, backed by some 20,000 African peacekeepers, as the country seeks to overcome decades of civil war and Islamist insurgency.
The Italian Defense Ministry said in a statement that two armored vehicles in an Italian convoy “suffered an explosion while returning from training with Somali security forces.
“So far there have been no casualties for Italian soldiers,” the statement said.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to the US website SITE, which monitors jihadist activities around the world.
“We are monitoring the situation. We are working to confirm the details of the incident and we will have more information as soon as we are able to confirm the facts on the ground,” US Africa Command said in a brief statement sent to AFP.
The Baledogle is a base built by the Soviets. Despite the secrecy surrounding US military operations in Somalia, Baledogle has become one of the bases from which to launch their strikes.
U.S. strikes in Somalia intensified in April 2017 after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “active hostile zone.” The frequency of strikes has risen dramatically in 2019.
Monday’s attacks follow a series of bombings and attacks claimed by al Shabaab.
Government forces drove out al Shabaab militants from Mogadishu in 2011 with the support of the African Union peacekeeping force. But insurgents continue to launch attacks, including suicide bombings, against government and international targets.
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