Al-Shabaab fighters carried out a deadly attack on an African Union military base in Somalia on Friday, with both sides reportedly suffering heavy casualties.
The militant fighters attacked a forward operating base in Buulo Mareer, about 120 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) said in a statement.
According to the African Union, the Islamist fighters used improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers.
Unverified footage shared on jihadist media outlets showed about a dozen Ugandan troops, held with their arms behind their backs, captured by the militants.
Soldiers of the Uganda People’s Democratic Army are stationed at the forward operating base as a peacekeeping force.
Uganda’s Defense Ministry spokesman tweeted early Friday morning that there had been “an early morning attack on our troops” in Somalia by Al-Shabaab and that the Uganda Defense Ministry was seeking more details.
Reuters news agency quoted a Somali army captain as saying both sides suffered heavy casualties, but it is unclear how many people were killed. CNN has contacted ATMIS about the number of casualties.
After the clashes, ATMIS reinforcements and allies were able to destroy the weapons of Al-Shabaab militants, the Somali army captain said.
The US State Department condemned the attack and confirmed that Ugandan peacekeepers deployed to the African Union forward base had been attacked.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims and wish the injured a full recovery. The United States commends the courage and sacrifice of the troops participating in this important mission. We stand with our partners of Somalia and the African Union in the fight to defeat terrorism and to promote peace and stability for the Somali people,” the Foreign Ministry added.
The European Union also condemned the attack.
“This latest attack on soldiers conducting peace support operations in Somalia only reinforces our commitment to stand with the region and those responsible for these ongoing horrific attacks against Somali civilians and those seeking to stabilize the situation in the country. , to be held accountable,” it said. in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and military comrades of those affected.”