US special forces base, Italian army convoy attacked in Somalia

Al-Shabab group claims responsibility for attack on US base in Baledogle while Italy confirms convoy hit by blast.

Separate attacks in Somalia have targeted a US special forces base in the town of Baledogle and a European military convoy in the capital, Mogadishu.

The al-Shabab armed group claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack at the Baledogle base located in the Lower Shabelle region, about 100km (60 miles) west of Mogadishu.

No immediate casualties from the attack, which involved twin vehicle-borne bombs, were reported.

“Two heavy explosions occurred, the first one bigger than the other. There was also a heavy exchange of gunfire after the blasts,” Mohamed Adan, a Somali elder close to the scene of the attack, told AFP news agency by phone.

Al-Shabab said its fighters stormed the base after using a car bomb to blast through its gates.

The US Mission to Somalia denied al-Shabab fighters penetrated the camp’s defences, saying Somali security forces repelled the attack.

“The security forces stopped this ultimately failed attack due to their alertness and swift response, not allowing the attackers to breach the outer defensive perimeters of the base,” the mission said in a statement.

“We are thankful that there were no SNA (Somali National Army) casualties between the multiple attacks.”

The US Africa Command carried out two air raids and used small arms fire targeting al-Shabab fighters in a counterattack, killing 10 “terrorists” and destroying a vehicle, according to a command statement.

“This attack, though ineffective, demonstrates the direct threat al-Shabab poses to Americans, our allies, and interests in the region,” said Major General William Gayler, US Africa Command director of operations.

The Baledogle base functions as a training camp for Somali soldiers.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from neighbouring Kenya, said the base was being used to carry out drone attacks on al-Shabab, which seeks to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government.

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