UPDATE: 6:40 a.m. EDT — Al-Shabab militants claimed Thursday that its fighters killed 60 soldiers during an attack on a military base of Ethiopian soldiers serving with an African Union force in Somalia.
The militant group said that 16 of its fighters also died in the attack, Reuters reported. However, Lt. Col. Joe Kibet, spokesman for the African Union's AMISOM force, dismissed al-Shabab's numbers as a "falsehood," but did not mention the number of casualties. "AMISOM forces killed 110 al-Shabab and captured a large cache of weapons," he told Reuters by telephone.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed Thursday that its fighters killed 43 soldiers in an attack on a base of Ethiopian troops serving with the African Union's AMISOM forces in Somalia. The group reportedly said that its fighters detonated a suicide car bomb at the base.
"Our fighters stormed the Halgan base of AMISOM," al-Shabab's military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters. He also said that "several" fighters from their group died, but did not give a number.
"It was a huge blast. It destroyed the gate and parts of the base," the spokesman said, adding al-Shabab fighters overran the base and drove out the Ethiopian troops.
Locals reportedly said that they heard a huge explosion from near the base in the central town of Haglan. The explosion was also followed by heavy exchange of gunfire, residents told Reuters. However, AMISOM, which is made up of troops from African nations supporting Somalia's Western-backed government in its fight against the al Qaeda-linked militants, did not confirm the attack.
Al-Shabab wants to topple the Western-backed government and impose Islamic law, or Shariah, in the country. The militant group was ousted from Mogadishu in August 2011, but still has a presence in large areas of southern Somalia.