A suicide car-bombing attack reportedly carried out by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab killed as many as 30 troops in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo Saturday. Voice of America reporter Harun Maruf said the troops were killed by a car filled with explosives that were detonated as the recruits lined up for training. He added that nearly 50 others were wounded in the attack.
BREAKING: Military officials believe suicide bomber was an Al-#Shabab defector who "joined up" the army more than six months ago.
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) August 22, 2015
With direct ties to al Qaeda, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in Kismayo, and the group alleged the death toll was significantly higher than reported, according to Agence France-Presse.
“One hundred apostate militia were killed in an operation carried out by one of the brave Mujahedeen suicide attackers who drove his vehicle through the enemy inside a training camp and detonated. May Allah accept him,” the group said in a statement cited by AFP.
The attackers rammed a utility vehicle into the gates of a former university campus that is now a military camp where soldiers are being trained to fight the Islamic extremist group, Somali police official Ahmed Ali told the Associated Press. The Somali army is training recruits from the regional administration in Kismayo, which is described at one of al-Shabab’s last strongholds in Somalia.
No international agency has yet confirmed the number of dead, but news outlets have reported a significantly lower number than the one claimed by al-Shabab. For example, AP reported 10 soldiers had been killed by the militants in Kismayo. A senior military official in the city, Col. Mohamed Hassan, told the news service that at least that number of soldiers had died and that two suspects involved in the attack were killed. Two other suspected militants were arrested and are being interrogated by security officials, the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia said via Twitter.
Friday, hooded al-Shabab gunmen launched an ambush assault on a military checkpoint in Somalia’s Gedo province, AllAfrica.com reported. The outlet also said a Somali military commander, Abdi Sheikh Ibrahim, was among those killed in a “hit-and-run” attack.
African Union troops are working with Somalian military forces to combat al-Shabab in Somalia. The militant group has been fighting to impose Islamic law, or Shariah, in the country. The group also has carried out a number of attacks in neighboring Kenya.