Locals attack US air base, bomb EU military convoy, in surprise Somalia attacks

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Local militia in Somalia have attacked a U.S. military base in the southern Lower Shabelle region of the country on Monday, while a second attack targeted a European “peace-keeping” envoy in the capital of Mogadishu.

In the first attack, two cars packed with explosives were driven towards the Balegdole air base before being detonated at its gates. Bursts of gunfire then followed as jihadists tried to breach the base.

Al-Shabab, Somalia’s insurgent group, said it was responsible¬†for the attack in a statement and claimed its fighters had been successful in entering the base.

“After breaching the perimeters of the heavily fortified base, the mujahideen [holy warriors] stormed the military complex, engaging the crusaders in an intense firefight,” the statement said.

Al-Shabab are known for often exaggerating their statements however, and a statement from the U.S. Ambassador to Somalia’s office denied that entry was made.

“The United States condemns the attacks today in Baledogle and Mogadishu,” the statement said. “We commend the Somali security forces who repelled the attack against the Somali National Army (SNA) Base in Baledogle, Lower Shabelle region.

“The security forces stopped this ultimately failed attack due to their alertness and swift response, not allowing the attackers to breach the outer defensive perimeters of the base.”

The Bolegole base, roughly 100 km (60 miles) west of Mogadishu, houses Somali special forces, U.S. special forces and Ugandan peace-keeping troops.

In the second attack, a bomb blast targeted a peace-keeping envoy from Italy. The Italian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the convoy was hit by explosions, but stated that no injuries had been reported. Images of the attack seen by Newsweek showed that a light-armored vehicle had been sheared open from the attack and extensive damage had been caused to nearby buildings.