Somalia army repels Al-Shabab attack, says 77 militants killed


KISMAYO, Somalia - The Somali army killed 77 militants who attacked a military base in southern Somalia on Saturday, in what the government said was the militants' heaviest loss in this year, Garowe Online reports.

General Aden Goojaar, Jubbaland state army chief said the troops have successfully fended off an assault on a joint U.S.-Somali camp in Sanguni on the outskirts of the southern port town of Kismayo early in the morning.

Goojaar said a vehicle packed with explosives which was intended to blow up a river bridge in the area was seized before it reached its main target. Four Somali government soldiers were among the dead, he added.

Another officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media said an airstrike was carried out by a U.S. drone called in to back Somali forces after they came under attack.

The airstrike struck the militants traveling in a convoy in an area between Araare and Muse Haji, killing at least 73 combatants. Sources said nine more extremists died in the early foiled attack Sanguni military base.

The dawn attack began when "several hundred" Islamist fighters tried to storm the town's military base, where an elite US army unit and Somali forces are said to be stationed.

Intense fighting erupted near the base, lasting for more than five hours before the attackers were pushed back, the officer said, adding that the army seized a significant arsenal of heavy weaponry from the militants.

Multiple sources said residents fled "as soon as people heard the first gunfire" in the town, situated about 50 kilometers north of Kismayo, the seat of Jubbaland.

Saturday's incident comes weeks after the president of Jubbaland state, Ahmed Madobe declared fresh offensive aimed at flashing out Al-Shabab insurgent group from the entire areas remained under its control.

An American Special Operations forces soldier was killed and four others were wounded in an attack on June last year in the same are when they were raided with mortar fire and small arms by Islamic extremist group the Shabab. 

On Friday, January 18, Ethiopian troops' convoy heading to Baidoa city was attacked by Al-Shabaab fighters in the town of Buur Hakaba in Somalia’s southern Bay region, causing significant casualties.

The insurgency by Al-Shabab, which is fighting to oust the UN-backed Somali government in Mogadishu, has been driven out of swathes of territory and key towns, including the capital since 2011.



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