Terrorist group Al-Shabab on Tuesday claimed it had killed "scores" of African Union peacekeeping troops in an attack south of the Somali capital Mogadishu. Residents from Janaale where the attack took place, in the country's Lower Shabelle province, confirmed the attack but could not give exact casualty numbers.
Witnesses said the attack began when a car apparently loaded with explosives breached the outer defences of an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and exploded.
The explosion was followed by heavily armed fighters storming the base, 55 miles south of Mogadishu.
Eyewitnesses said they had counted 20 AMISOM bodies but al-Shabab claimed they had killed 50 soldiers. Although the terrorist group is known to exaggerate “body counts,” Somali situation experts say they expect the final death toll to be “very large.”
An AMISOM release statement has condemned the “heinous” attack.
The statement read "The AMISOM base at Janaale, Lower Shabelle Region in Somalia came under attack from al-Shabab militants today.”
"The militants used a car loaded with explosives to trigger the attack and to facilitate their forced entry into the camp after which they engaged our soldiers in a gun-battle.”
"Although our troops undertook a tactical withdrawal following the initial vehicle borne explosive attack, they have since consolidated and regained full control of the base."
Shortly after the Janaale attack, al-Shabab also claimed responsibility for a car bombing close to Mogadishu's Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu, which killed 10 people.
Yesterday US President Barack Obama said in Nairobi, that al-Shabab was still an overall threat despite having been "weakened".
Al-shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed a year ago in a U.S. led airstrike.
Al-Shabab which is al-Qaida aligned, has stated its aim is to overthrow Somalia's Central government and establish a state governed by its own interpretation of Islamic law.