Al-Shabab gunmen attack military base in central Somalia

Al-Shabab gunmen attack military base in central Somalia

Suspected al-Shabab fighters attacked a Somali military base in the central Galgaduud region on Monday, the defence ministry has said, days after the area was captured by government forces.

The army repulsed the attack on the base housing national and local troops in Qayib, a village captured from al-Shabab last week, defence ministry spokesman Abdullahi Ali Anod told the state-run news agency SONNA.

The attack began with two suicide car bombs at about 5am local time (02:00 GMT), followed by hours of heavy fighting, Ahmed Hassan, a military officer in the nearby town of Bahdo, told Reuters news agency. It was not immediately clear how many people had been killed in the raid, Hassan said.

In a statement, al-Shabab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said the group launched the assault in Qayib using suicide car bombs before its fighters attacked from different directions. The fighters killed several soldiers and stole weapons and military vehicles, Abu Musab said.

Government forces, supported by clan militias, have made a number of battlefield gains against al-Shabab in the last three months, regaining territory long held by the group.

In response, al-Shabab killed at least 100 people in twin car bombings at the education ministry in the capital, Mogadishu, on October 29, the deadliest blasts in five years.

A suicide bomber also killed at least five people and wounded 11 others in an incident near a military training camp in Mogadishu on Saturday.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-allied armed group fighting in Somalia for more than a decade, is seeking to topple the country’s central government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Its fighters were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 by the African Union peacekeeping forces. But it still controls swaths of Somalia’s countryside and has stepped up attacks since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May and pledged an “all-out war” against the group

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Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of provoking a shootout along their troubled border before the arch-foes were to hold US-mediated peace talks. The incident came on Monday, hours before a meeting in Washington of Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov for another round of peace talks hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. With Moscow increasingly isolated on the world stage following its February invasion of Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have taken a leading role in mediating the Armenia-Azerbaijan talks. The escalation at the border came a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for talks, as Moscow seeks to maintain its role as a powerbroker between the ex-Soviet republics. INTERACTIVE_AZARBAIJAN-ARMENIA-CONFLICT In the early hours of Monday, Azerbaijani forces opened fire on Armenian positions “in the eastern sector of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border”, the defence ministry in Yerevan said in a statement. The statement said there were “no casualties, and the situation on the frontline was relatively stable” on Monday morning. Azerbaijan’s defence ministry for its part accused Armenian forces of shooting at the positions of Azerbaijani troops stationed at several locations on the frontier. Russian reaction Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday called on both parties to “refrain from the actions and steps that could lead to an escalation of tensions”. Yerevan and Baku fought two wars over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh – in the autumn of 2020 and in the 1990s. Six weeks of fighting in 2020 killed more than 6,500 people before a Russian-brokered truce ended the hostilities. Under the 2020 deal, Armenia ceded swaths of territory it had controlled for decades and Russia stationed peacekeepers to oversee the fragile ceasefire. There have been frequent exchanges of fire at the Caucasus neighbours’ border since the 2020 war. In September, more than 280 people from both sides were killed in new clashes. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict killed about 30,000 people.

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