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al-Shabab Claims Recent Attack Was Foiled

Militant Islamist group al-Shabab has said it fought off an attack by foreign forces on one of its bases in southern Somalia.

One fighter was reportedly killed in the overnight raid, carried out by two helicopters.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group has not identified the nationality of the troops involved in the operation. Several countries have been supporting Somali officials in their efforts to combat al-Shabab’s insurgency.

The assault comes after the US said it conducted air strikes on Saturday on a training camp of the group, killing more than 150 fighters. Al-Shabab said the number was exaggerated. The African Union mission in Somalia has not commented on the latest raid. The alleged operation targeted an al-Shabab base near the town of Awdhegele, about 50km (30 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu. “They were masked and spoke foreign languages which our fighters could not understand,” al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters news agency. “We do not know who they were but we foiled them.”

He said the helicopters landed on the banks of the River Shabelle and commandos from the aircraft advanced on the base.

They carried rocket launchers and M16 rifles, he told Reuters, citing a weapon used by US forces. However, he did not mention any nationality. Residents confirmed there had been a gun battle, and that the group had sealed the area so it was not possible to know if there were any casualties. Reuters said one fighter was killed.

Al-Shabab is battling the Western-backed Somali government to establish Islamic rule in the country. Local forces fighting the group have been backed by an African Union mission made up of forces from several African nations.