Al-Qeada-aligned militant group Al-Shabaab on Tuesday launched a dawn attack on a base housing Burundi’s African Union peacekeepers in the town of El-baraf in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region as the Horn of Africa nation celebrates the second day of Eid-ul-Fitr festivities.
Militants used a vehicle packed with explosives to blast their way into the base and exchanged heavy gunfire with AU garrisons before overrunning them and taking control of the military camp, the group’s officials told affiliated media.
Al-Shabaab media reported that equipment left behind by overpowered Burundian soldiers have been distributed to residents, who had also allegedly taken part in the assault, a claim which has yet to be confirmed by local authorities.
Al-Shabaab said its initial estimates showed that about 59 Burundian soldiers were killed and many more wounded, with rest having escaped to the rural areas surrounding the town.
African Union mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and Somali government have not immediately commented on the attack.
Local media reports indicated that ATMIS troops shelled El-baraf hours after insurgents had taken its control. But there were no immediate reports of casualties on local civilians.