Africa

Somalia al-Shabab: African Union base under attack

A Ugandan soldier patrols a back street in the southern town of Merka, 90km north of Somalia"s capital Mogadishu, on 17 July 2016. Image copyright AFP
Image caption AU soldiers come from across the continent

Islamist militants have launched a gun and bomb attack on an African Union (AU) peacekeeper base in Somalia.

Al Shabab fighters detonated two car bombs outside the base in the town of Bulamarer, south-west of Mogadishu.

Local residents say they heard heavy exchanges of gunfire which lasted more than three hours.

It is unclear exactly how many people died in the attack but both sides say many people died as AU and Somali troops defended the base.

A spokesman for the Somali internal security ministry, Abdulaziz Ali Ibrahim Xildhiban, told the BBC more than 20 al-Shabab militants had been killed.

"They were not able to gain access [to] the base," he said. "We have seized a lot of ammunition and other weapons."

The AU is a pan-African organisation with 54 member nations whose goal is peace and prosperity across the continent.

In recent years, the Islamist militants have lost control of most of Somalia's urban areas.

But they frequently detonate bombs in the capital Mogadishu and occasionally attack peacekeepers.

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