MOGADISHU (AFP) – Somalia’s army said on Saturday that soldiers had killed scores of Al-Shabaab gunmen who attacked two key military bases, while police said five civilians died in a suicide bombing in Mogadishu.
In a particularly bloody day for Somalia, where the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab launches regular attacks against government and civilian targets, both sides claimed they had inflicted heavy casualties on the other. Death tolls could not be independently confirmed.
In the early hours of the morning, Al-Shabaab targetted the military bases in the towns of Awdheegle and Bariire – some 30 kilometres apart. Both are forward-operating bases in the fight against the extremist group.
“The army killed 76 fighters and captured 10 others alive during the fighting,” commander of the infantry contingent in the region Mohamed Tahlil Bihi told journalists.
“The terror attacks were foiled and the dead bodies of those they had been misled into the fight are strewn around here,” he added.
He did not give any details of losses suffered by the army.
In Mogadishu, five civilians, including a child, were killed when a suicide bomber detonated himself at a tea shop, police said.
“Around 7pm in the evening, a suicide bomber detonated himself at a tea shop frequented by the youth. Six people, four of them youth, a child, and the suicide bomber died in the blast. Four others were wounded,” police spokesman Sadiq Dudishe said in a statement.
A witness said the bomber walked into a crowd who were drinking tea in an open area near a police station.
“I was leaving a restaurant just a few hundred metres away from where the blast occurred,” said witness Ali Mohamed.
“Police cordoned off the area, but I saw several dead bodies carried away in an ambulance, they were young men, two of them from the neighbourhood where I live.”