Al-Shabaab fighters launched a deadly attack on an African Union military base in Somalia on Friday, causing heavy casualties on both sides.
The militant fighters attacked a forward operating base at Buulo Mareer, about 120 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) said in a statement.
Islamist fighters used improvised explosive devices in vehicles and suicide bombers, according to the African Union.
Unverified footage shared on jihadist media channels showed a dozen Ugandan soldiers with guns held behind their backs being captured by the militants.
Uganda People’s Democratic Army soldiers are stationed at the forward operating base as a peacekeeping force.
Uganda’s Ministry of Defense spokesperson tweeted early Friday that there had been “an early morning attack on our troops” in Somalia by Al-Shabaab and that the Ugandan Ministry of Defense was seeking further details.
Reuters news agency quoted a Somali army captain as saying both sides suffered heavy casualties, but it is unclear how many people were killed. CNN contacted ATMIS about the number of victims.
Following the clashes, reinforcements from ATMIS and its allies were able to destroy the weapons of Al-Shabaab militants, the Somali army captain said.
The US State Department condemned the attack, confirming that Ugandan peacekeepers deployed to the African Union Forward Operating Base had been attacked.
“We express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims and wish a full recovery to those injured. The United States salutes the bravery and sacrifice of the troops participating in this important mission. We stand with our Somali partners and the African Union in the fight to defeat terrorism and advance peace and stability for the people of Somalia,” the State Department added.
The European Union also condemned the attack.
“This latest attack on soldiers conducting peace support operations in Somalia only reinforces our commitment to stand with the region and to hold accountable those responsible for these continued heinous attacks against Somali citizens and those seeking to stabilize the situation in the country,” he said. in a report.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and military comrades of those affected.”