The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant group has claimed to have overrun an African Union (AU) military base in a village in the troubled southern Somalia.
Mohamed Abu-Yahya, a Shabab commander, said on Friday that the militants had taken control of the military outpost in Lego village, which is located 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.
Dozens of members of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) were killed during the fierce clashes, the militant commander added.
Abu-Yahya emphasized that the base, which has been manned by Burundian soldiers, is now under full control of al-Shabab militants.
He also noted that the militant group’s “flag is flying over the main base of AMISOM in Lego this morning and the dead bodies of the enemy are scattered around the area.”
In a statement, AMISOM had earlier confirmed “an ongoing attack” on its base in the country’s south.
Meanwhile, several local residents have also reported fierce battles at the base.
The residents said that the heavily-armed militants first detonated a car bomb to force their way into the base. The militants used heavy weapons including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades during their assault.
“We could see smoke and hear explosions, there was heavy fighting in the AMISOM base with heavily armed Shebab fighters,” AFP quoted Hassan Mohamed, a local resident, as saying.
Somalia has experienced deadly fighting between government forces and the al-Shabab terrorist group since 2006.
The militants have been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government and the AU troops.
The AU mission to Somalia is largely made up of troops from Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Sierra Leone.
The terrorist group has continued to launch attacks in Mogadishu despite being driven out of their bases in the seaside city in 2011.