An unspecified number of Burundian peacekeepers were killed Saturday when a military convoy was ambushed by the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, security sources said on Sunday.
“We’ve been informed about an ambush in which a number of Burundian soldiers were killed,” Abdikarim Hassan, a local Somali security official told AFP.
A senior official contacted by telephone in the Burundian city of Bujumbura told AFP 12 Burundian soldiers had been killed and six injured.
“Yes it’s true. Unfortunately 12 of our soldiers were killed and six others injured yesterday (Saturday) by Shabaab militants who ambushed them as they were returning from a security mission in a convoy going from Jowhar to Mogadishu,” the Burundian official said on condition of anonymity.
Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, claiming to have killed 14 Burundian soldiers.
The soldiers, who were serving with the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (Amisom), were attacked on the road linking Mogadishu and the city of Jowhar, 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of the capital.
The Shabaab has been fighting for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.
A few hours before the attack a bomb exploded on the same road, killing three people including two local officials, Hassan added.
Resident Ahmed Haji said villagers had heard gunfire and seen bodies.
“Some villagers saw the dead bodies of the AU soldiers near the scene of the ambush, but they could not say their numbers,” he said.
“People heard heavy exchange of gunfire that lasted more than 20 minutes as the Amisom military convoy was passing by the area,” he added.
The attack is the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
The Shabaab was driven out of Mogadishu by government forces backed by 20,000 peacekeepers from Amisom in 2011. But they still carry out attacks including suicide bombings against government targets.