1/18/2016

Terrorists Abound


Al-Shabab militants have overrun an African Union military base outside the southern Somali town of el-Ade.

The Islamist group says it has taken "complete control" of the AU camp and killed more than 60 Kenyan soldiers.

Residents told the BBC that al-Shabab had raised its flag at a camp for Kenyan troops and said insurgents had paraded bodies through the town.

But Kenya's army spokesman said it was a nearby Somali base that was stormed and Kenyan troops counter-attacked.

The number of casualties on both sides was not known, Kenyan military spokesman Col David Obonyo said in a statement.

He told the BBC that reports of high Kenyan casualties were "normal propaganda from al-Shabab".

Kenya contributes more than 4,000 troops to the 22,000-strong AU force that is in Somalia helping the UN-backed government battle al-Shabab, which is part of al-Qaeda.

An el-Ade resident told the BBC by phone that he had heard a loud explosion at about 05:30 local time (02:30 GMT), followed by heavy gunfire. 

"We then saw an al-Shabab fighter in the town. 

We also saw Kenyan soldiers who were fleeing from the camp.

"At the moment the camp is in the hands of al-Shabab. 

We can see military cars burning and dead soldiers all over the place. 

There are no civilian casualties but most people have fled the town."

Al-Shabab is keen to stress - both to the foreign forces in Somalia and would-be defectors within its ranks enamoured by so-called Islamic State - that it is a force to be reckoned with. 

It is true that the group exaggerates the scale of its attacks but whether or not the death toll from el-Ade attack is as high as claimed, the African Union mission (Amisom) will have to recognise it still has a long way to go to gain full control of the country.

It says a lot for the insurgents to be daring enough to strike at the heart of an African Union base and engage troops in hours of combat.

They have done this before - in two major attacks targeting the Somali military last year, dozens of Burundian troops and Ugandans soldiers were killed.

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