A file photograph of Somali police officers guarding a street in Mogadishu, Somalia. EFE-EPA/FILE/SAID YUSUF WARSAME

At least 6 soldiers killed in militant attack on Somalia military base

Mogadishu, Oct 21 (EFE).- At least six soldiers were killed in a suicide attack by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab militants on a military base near the Somali capital of Mogadishu, officials said.

A vehicle loaded with explosives rammed into a checkpoint at the entrance of the military base in Elasha Biyaha town, west of Mogadishu, a security person told EFE, pleading anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

The base houses members of the Somali military police, a unit responsible for protecting the capital, and the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA).

The source said security forces fired upon the vehicle when it accelerated toward the checkpoint. But the firing did not stop it or slow it down.

“We suspect that the vehicle was armored,” said the source.

Six soldiers, including the military base commander, Ahmed Afdhuub Kheyre, died.

The explosion caused damage to the surrounding neighborhoods and affected many of the makeshift residences where residents live.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a press statement on one of its websites, claiming to have killed 49 soldiers.

EFE attempted to contact the Somali information ministry but did not receive a response.

The country in the horn of Africa has seen an escalation in violence in the wake of President Mohamud declaring a “total war” against al-Shabab in August.

Since then, the Somalian army, supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), has carried out intensive offensives against the militant group, sometimes with cooperation from the United States.

Militants have responded with deadly attacks, like a twin car bombing in October last year that killed 120.

The al-Qaeda affiliate aims to expel all foreign forces from Somalia and establish a strict Islamic state.

Somalia has been in a state of war since 1991 after the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre left the country without an effective government and vulnerable to Islamic militants, warlords, and criminal groups.

The group controls rural areas of central and southern Somalia and also conducts attacks in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. EFE

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