MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Al-Qaeda-linked militants have set off a car bomb outside a military base in central Somalia’s Mudug region before heavily armed fighters stormed inside on Sunday morning, killing at least 16 soldiers.
The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the assault on a base housing government troops and paramilitary forces belonging to Galmudug regional administration in the town of Wisil, some 48km from Hobyo. It said its fighters had killed over 34 soldiers in the attack and seized military vehicles, weapons and ammunition.
Gunfire rang out inside the base for about half an hour after the blast took place, a resident said.
“Heavily armed masked men wearing turbans could be seen on the streets” of the town and they are said to have taken a military base, he told Somaliguardian.
Senior Galmudug security officials approached by Somaliguardian declined to comment on the attack, which comes weeks after militants took over the strategic town of Ba’adwayn.
“We do not know exact casualties, but we know some 16 people were killed,” said a member of Galmudug paramilitary forces stationed in Wisil, who claims that he is still in the town.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity to Somaliguardian, he said “our troops repelled the terrorist attack”, without giving further details.
It is the first time militants have attacked Wisil, who now seem to be advancing towards key towns in the north of Galmudug State after taking vast swathes of mainly rural territory in the region over the past few months.
Galmudug deputy police chief Colonel Mohamed Mire Mohamud, speaking to local media, said troops repulsed the dawn raid which began after militants blasted their way into the base.
“At about 4:30 am… they launched a surprise attack on us, that began with car bomb but they suffered casualties,” regional deputy police chief said.
There has been no independent confirmation of both sides claims but residents say militants briefly took over the town and a base that had been home to hundreds of soldiers.
Contact us: email@example.com