Al Shabaab suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into an African Union military base in central Somalia on Tuesday, a security official said.
The explosion was followed by heavy gunfire at the Djiboutian base in the city of Beledweyne.
Witness Ismail Mahad described seeing “clouds of smoke caused by the heavy blast” followed by “exchange of gunfire at the Djiboutian camp”.
“There was a suicide attack targeting the Djiboutian military base in western Beledweyne,” said Abdullah Ibrahim, a local security official who added the number of casualties was not yet known.
The al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militant group said, via its Radio Andalus media organisation, that it was responsible for the attack, claiming “the death and injury of many soldiers”.
The Shabaab, which is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, regularly attacks AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) bases as well as government and civilian targets.
In recent weeks Ethiopian troops deployed in the nearby area have withdrawn from some of their positions, with no explanation given for the movement of troops back towards Beledweyne, the provincial capital.
Each time Shabaab fighters immediately reoccupied the abandoned towns.