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Sunday, March 7, 2021

EU military convoy and US military base attacked in Somalia

Separate attacks hit a U.S. military base in the Somali town of Baledogle and an Italian military convoy in the Somali capital on Monday, a witness and a security source said.

A Reuters journalist saw a seriously damaged armored vehicle bearing a small Italian flag sticker in the capital of Mogadishu. It was unclear if there were any casualties.

Italy’s defense ministry said in a statement that an Italian military convoy had been hit by an explosion. No injuries had been reported so far, the defense ministry said.

Also on Monday morning, there was a bomb attack followed by small arms fire at a base operated by U.S. special forces, a security source told Reuters. The Baledogle base is where U.S. special forces train Somali commandos and from where many drone operations are launched.

Somali police said that two car bombs targeted the base, which houses Somali special forces, U.S. special forces and Ugandan peacekeeping troops.

“Two suicide car bombs from the Middle Shabelle region tried to attack Balidogle airport but they detonated outside the airport gate,” Major Abdullahi Nur, a police officer, told Reuters.

The bombs were followed by small arms fire, a security source told Reuters. The attack was directed at the U.S. forces on the base, he said.

The Balidogle base is in the Lower Shabelle region, about 100 km (60 miles) west of Mogadishu.

The al Qaeda-linked insurgent group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

“In the early hours of Monday morning, an elite unit of soldiers from Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen’s Martyrdom Brigade launched a daring raid on the U.S. military base,” the group’s press release said.

“After breaching the perimeters of the heavily fortified base, the mujahideen (holy warriors) stormed the military complex, engaging the crusaders in an intense firefight.”

Al Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the weak, U.N.-backed Somali government and enforce its own strict version of Islamic law. Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when warlords overthrew a dictator then turned on each other.

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