Araweelo News Network

Somalian security personnel walk past burning vehicles as they secure an area in Mogadishu on July 30, 2017, after a car bomb explosion in the Somalian capital. (AFP photo)

Mogadishu(ANN)-Somalia’s militant group al-Shabaab has launched a blitz attack on African Union troops south of the country, killing 39 of them.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, said Sunday that the group had definitely killed 39 members of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in clashes that erupted earlier in the day in Bulamareer district in Lower Shabelle region about 140 km southwest of Mogadishu.

Somalia’s military and government officials could not confirm the casualty figures although a senior military officer said the clashes erupted following an ambush by Shabaab militants.

“The ambush turned into a fierce fight between al Shabaab and AMISOM. We understand fighting is still going on but we do not have the figure of casualties,” said Colonel Hassan Mohamed, adding that a AMISOM convoy was the target of the attack.

Al-Shabaab is the dominant militant force in Somalia, a country in the horn of Africa that has been ravaged by decades of war and poverty. The militant group aims to oust the western-backed government in Mogadishu while it has always protested the presence of foreign peacekeepers.

Countries contributing to AMISOM have also suffered attacks by the al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab. Kenya, a leading provider of troops and finances to the mission, has seen several of those attacks on its mainland over the past years, while attacks in Uganda have also been reported.

The attack came as officials in Mogadishu reported a deadly blast after a month of relative calm in the capital city. Five people were killed in the attack and 10 others were wounded in the assault which took place near Waberi police station along the busy Maka Almukarramah road. Most of the victims were civilians trapped in a morning traffic jam. There was no claim of responsibility from Shabaab.