NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Gunmen attacked the African Union’s main base in the capital, Mogadishu, on Thursday leading to an exchange of gunfire between militants and soldiers that left at least five militants dead, an official with the mission in Somalia said.
Somali extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and said they were targeting a Christmas party at the base, which also houses Western embassies and UN offices.
At least eight men entered the AU base near the Mogadishu airport, AU Mission in Somalia spokesman Col Ali Aden Houmed told The Associated Press. He said the base was now calm.
“Our forces shot dead three of them, two detonated themselves near a fuel depot, and the three are believed to have escaped,” he said.
Some African Union soldiers may have died in the fighting, Houmed said, but did not give details.
“An investigation is underway on how they entered the base,” he said, adding that the attack was launched at a time when people were busy at lunch.
AU troops are bolstering Somalia’s weak government against an insurgency from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab.