African Union forces claimed Friday that during combats earlier this week they had inflicted heavy casualties on Al-Shabaab, the jihadist terrorist group based in Somalia.
AU officials said this was one of the bloodiest clashes in Somalia for months, while the militants also claimed heavy losses on their enemy.
The militants had begun the attack with a suicide car bomb at the base of Ethiopian troops in Halgan, 300 kilometres north of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
“The militants were 400 in number and they attacked us in four different positions. They launched the assault very early in the morning around 05:00 am and we managed to end the attack at exactly 09:00 am in the morning,” said Colonel Ayenom Mesfin, sector commander of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), a peace keeping mission operated by the AU in Somalia with approval by the UN.
AMISOM Commanders claimed to have killed 140 militants.
“We’ve learned lessons from previous attacks and Al-Shabaab has been exploiting AMISOM weaknesses. But over time now, we’ve been able to learn lessons and share the experiences – and I think this is evidence of our troops being able to pick those lessons from previous experiences. So we’ve come a long way already and we shall continue to make sure those weaknesses are addressed,” said Nakibus Lakira, deputy force commander of AMISOM.
The Somali government has praised the Somali and AU forces, saying this showed Al-Shabaab can be defeated.
Al-Shabab told a different story of what happened saying they killed more than 40 soldiers. Yet AMISOM, the Ethiopian government and the Somali government all denied this number claimed by the militants.