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Al-Shabab Militants Strike African Union Base In Somalia

The Islamist militant group al-Shabab ambushed a base for African Union peacekeepers in southern Somalia early Tuesday.

The base, some 60 miles south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, is the second to be attacked this summer by the al-Qaida-linked militant group, NPR's Gregory Warner tells our Newscast unit. He says it raises questions about the success of the eight-year peacekeeping mission.

The peacekeeping group, known as the African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, released a statement condemning the attack:

"The militants used a car loaded with explosives to trigger the attack and to facilitate their forced entry into the camp after which they engaged our soldiers in a gun-battle."

Amisom said on its Twitter account that it has regained control of the Janale base and is trying to verify the number of casualties.

Reuters reports that al-Shabab said 50 peacekeepers were killed in the attack. But the news service notes that "in the past, the group has exaggerated the number of troops it has killed and officials have played down losses."

Gregory says the two recent strikes show al-Shabab's "continuing ability to do more than just asymmetric suicide attacks and car bombs — but engage directly with a conventional military." He adds:

"The Islamist group al-Shabab regularly sends suicide attacks against government convoys and aid workers in hotels in Somalia, but this was the second assault this summer through the gate of a military base. It demonstrated the group's continuing strength even as they've been driven from their own bases and many of their leaders have been killed in drone strikes."

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