MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – At least 20 Galmudug regional troops were killed and more than a dozen others wounded after militants attacked a military base in central Somalia’s Mudug region on Tuesday, two military officials and a resident said.
Fierce gunfight erupted inside the base which lasted for several hours, with combatants exchanging exchanging heavy gunfire.
“As far as we know, about 20 soldiers died in the surprise attack near Shabellow area [on the outskirts of Ba’adwayne town]. We don’t know exact number of those wounded in the raid,” Abdullahi Osman Ilwayne, a military officer who was in the town of Ba’adwayne as reports of the attack unfolded, told Somaliguardian on Wednesday.
Military vehicles racing with reinforcements left Ba’adwayne and other towns in the region, he added.
Another military officer, who is a member of Galmudug Darwish forces, said militants overran the base following hours-long gun battle and seized military vehicles, weapons and ammunition caches left behind by regional forces.
“Al-Shabaab gunmen managed to get inside the base … they faced hours-long resistance from base garrison, who then fled after getting no reinforcements,” A military officer with Galmudug Darwish forces said.
“Terrorist militias captured several vehicles and weapons, but I can’t give number. There a number of people, including region’s navy commander who are still unaccounted for. We don’t know if they were killed or captured,” the military official, who did not want to be named, told Somaliguardian on Wednesday.
Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group Al-Shabaab said it had carried out the attack and killed more than 30 soldiers, a number which has not yet been confirmed by the federal government and regional authorities.
The group claimed to have killed three senior regional security officials, including Ali Dini [Ex-police head of Abdiasis district in Mogadishu], Horsed units commander of Galmudug regional troops and the deputy commander of region’s Darwish forces Eirre Hirsige.
Militants also seized three military vehicles belonging to Senator Abdi Hassan Awale Qaybdid, according Al-Shabaab-affiliated media.
The group’s media reported on Tuesday that Islamist fighters captured the commander of Galmudug’s navy Hirsi Ali Shire.
A resident in the town of Ba’adwayne, whose family live near Shabellow where the military base targeted by the militant attack is located, said both sides used heavy weapons during Tuesday’s fighting that forced rural families in the area to flee.
“Al-Shabaab men were in control of the base and were patrolling nearby residential areas looking for soldiers who escaped. My family told me they saw their gunmen driving army vehicles from the base where more than 20 dead bodies had been left,” a resident in the town of Ba’adwayne said speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of being identified.
Galmudug’s top military officials did not respond to calls seeking comment.
The deadly attack comes weeks after allied federal troops and Galmudug regional forces recaptured the town of Ba’adwayne and nearby villages from Al-Shabaab in a military operation backed by US drones.
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