At least 30 people have been killed after gunmen attacked an African Union military base in southern Somalia, witnesses say, BBC reports. A suicide car bomber drove into the main gates of the base in Leego, along the main road connecting the capital, Mogadishu and the city of Baidoa. The militant Islamist group al-Shabab says its fighters have taken control of the base but this is not confirmed.
Al-Shabab is battling Somalia’s government for control of the country. The base is manned by Burundian soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which has more than 20,000 troops in the country. Amisom confirmed on its Twitter account that an attack was ongoing, but has not given any details on casualties. Leego residents have seen militants burning vehicles, carrying off weapons and removing the bodies of their fighters killed in the attack, reports the BBC’s Mohamed Moalimu from Mogadishu.
The governor of Lower Shabelle province told the BBC that militants had conducted at least three separate attacks in his region but that most had been repelled. Al-Shabab has vowed to intensify attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. On Wednesday, the first day of Ramadan, the United Arab Emirates ambassador survived a suicide attack on his convoy in Mogadishu.