Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab gunmen killed “several” African Union soldiers in an attack on Thursday on a base in central Somalia, the extremists and witnesses said.

Shebab commandos, dressed in stolen government army uniforms, stormed the compound of a hotel where Djiboutian troops with the AU force were based in the town of Bulla Burde, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, their spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP.

“The area command headquarters (of the AU force) was attacked, these attacks will continue,” Musab said, boasting to have killed six AU troops, claims that could not be immediately verified.

Residents reported a heavy blast followed by fierce gunfire and explosions for about hour, beginning around dawn on Thursday.

“There was a loud explosion before a firefight broke out,” said Ahmed Abdirisak, a local resident.

“There was heavy exchange of gunfire, it continued about an hour.. there are several dead bodies strewn around,” said resident Hassan Mohamed.

There was no immediate response from the UN-backed AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

The attack is the latest by the Shebab, in retaliation for the AU offensive to root them out of areas of the war-torn country still under their control.

The town was seized from the Shebab in March.

After withdrawing from fixed positions in the capital Mogadishu nearly three years ago, the Shebab have lost most large towns to the AU and government soldiers. However, they still regularly launch guerrilla raids.

Recent Shebab attacks in Somalia have targeted key areas of government, or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and AU troops that they are winning the war.

via Shebab fighters attack African Union base in Somalia | The New Age Online.