Somali forces kill two attackers trying to enter base near Mogadishu airport

Gunfire erupted near the capital's airport as security forces clashed with armed men

Planes parked at Adan Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu on Wednesday.  Reuters

Somali security forces have shot dead two armed men who tried to burst into an army base near the international airport in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, state television said.

Earlier in the day, state TV had said security forces were responding to a “terrorist incident” at the camp's gates, with a witness saying gunmen had forced their way in and started shooting.

“Security forces are attending a terrorist incident at one of main gates of Mogadishu’s Halane compound and police will give details shortly, officials confirmed to state media,” Somali National Television (SNTV) said on its Twitter account.

Initial gunfire erupted near Mogadishu's airport as security forces clashed with armed men attempting to storm a heavily fortified area of the Somali capital, witnesses said.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

“There is gunfire inside the airport vicinity, and we are [hearing] this is an ongoing attack involving gunmen, we don't have details so far but the security forces are engaging them now,” AFP quoted Mohamed Ali, who works for airport security, as saying.

Witnesses reported hearing heavy gunfire. The airport complex houses the UN, aid agencies and foreign missions and contractors, as well as the headquarters of the African Union military mission, AMISOM.

Mahad Hirsi, a witness at the compound, told Reuters that he saw the attackers force their way through the gate and start shooting, and that “a number of injured AMISOM soldiers [were] lying on the ground".

His account could not immediately be independently confirmed, and representatives for AMISOM and the United Nations' Somalia office did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

Due to the gunfire near the airport flight traffic had been halted, a travel agent said.

Al Shabaab, which has been waging a violent insurgency against the country's fragile government for more than a decade, claimed responsibility for the attack on Wednesday.

The Al Qaeda-linked militants frequently carry out attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the country against civilian, military and government targets.

The militants controlled Mogadishu until 2011 when they were pushed out by AMISOM troops, but they still hold territory in the countryside.

Updated: March 23, 2022, 1:38 PM