High death toll feared in Al Shabab attack on African Union peacekeeping mission

Militant group claims to have killed 137 soldiers in raid

Al Shabab fighters in Somalia in 2011.  AP Photo
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Dozens are reported dead after Al Shabab militants attacked a Somali military base on Friday housing Ugandan peacekeeping forces in the country as part of an African Union mission.

Ugandan officials are concerned that many soldiers could be dead after a Somali official said both sides suffered heavy casualties and Al Shabab claimed to have killed "137 soldiers" in the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis) base in Bulamarer, about 130km south-west of the capital, Mogadishu.

"There was an attack this morning at our base ... by elements of Al Shabab, but we are waiting for official communication from Atmis headquarters," said Uganda People's Defence Force deputy spokesman Deo Akiiki.

The Al Qaeda-linked group has led an insurgency against the Somali government for more than 15 years.

"Atmis forces are currently assessing the security situation," it said, without elaborating further.

The militants attacked an Atmis base and an adjacent one belonging to the Somali military, a Somali military captain, who gave his name as Abdullahi, told Reuters from the Lower Shabelle region.

"That prompted a fierce battle for hours. All groups including Al Shabab suffered heavy casualties," he said.

A government fightback since last year has eroded the group's power and control, but it continues to launch significant attacks on government, commercial and military targets.

Updated: May 26, 2023, 1:31 PM