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Somali troops flee to Kenya to escape Shabaab attack

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Somali soldiers, some of them wounded, fled across the border into Kenya during an attack by Islamic militants on the town of Bulo Hawo on Monday, security sources said.

At least 12 people died when fighters from the Al-Qaeda-aligned Shabaab group attacked the border town, according to witnesses, while many soldiers fled westward a few kilometres to the Kenyan town of Mandera.

“We have several of the soldiers from Somalia who ran to Kenya after the attack,” said Mohamud Saleh, regional coordinator for north eastern Kenya. “Some are injured and have been taken to hospital.”

Another regional security official, who did not want to be named, said the Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers numbered “more than 100”.

The assault on Bulo Hawo followed standard Shabaab procedure with a vehicle-borne improvised bomb exploding at the entrance to the town’s main military post, followed by a coordinated attack by militants from several directions.

“Shabaab militants attacked Bulo Hawo early this morning and heavy fighting erupted inside the town,” said Ibrahim Dahir, a Somali army officer in the area.

Abdukadir Moalim, a local elder, said at least 12 people were killed, “most of them combatants”.

Bulo Hawo resident Ahmed Omar said that lacking reinforcements the SNA soldiers, left the town “and some of them crossed the border with Kenya”.

The militants stole vehicles and weapons before withdrawing.

In a statement translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, Shabaab claimed responsibility for the raid saying it killed 30 soldiers and released 35 prisoners from jail.

Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu for the last 10 years, and also carries out occasional terrorist attacks in neighbouring Kenya.

Somalia’s army is supported by a 22,000-strong African Union force while the US also carries out drone strikes against Shabaab commanders and has, in recent months, played an increasing role in Somali commando raids targeting the group’s leaders.

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Singapore-flagged tanker attacked off Somalia but escapes

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AP — Mogadishu – An international anti-piracy force says a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker has exchanged fire with attackers off the coast of Somalia before escaping unharmed.

The European Union anti-piracy force says in a statement that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs early on Friday about 160 nautical miles off central Somalia. A private security team on the tanker fired warning shots and the skiffs turned away about 20 minutes later.

The Horn of Africa nation saw a brief resurgence of pirate attacks a year ago.

The EU statement says Friday’s attack is “likely to be piracy related” and is the first such attack since November.

The statement says the chemical tanker had been en route from Oman to Cape Town, South Africa.

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US military says drone strike in Somalia kills 4 extremists

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VOA — A U.S. drone strike has killed several al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, officials tell VOA.

Local sources said missiles fired Wednesday targeted a rickshaw carrying five al-Shabab militants near Jamaame, in the southern Lower Juba region.

“I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by U.S. drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground,” a Somali government official told VOA Somali on the condition of anonymity.

The attack was confirmed by witnesses and local residents, who also asked for anonymity because they feared militant reprisals.

Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.

A statement Thursday from the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out by the U.S. military “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.” The statement said the strike killed four terrorists and no civilians.

On Tuesday, local residents in the region reported another airstrike that destroyed an al-Shabab training camp in the nearby town of Jilib. That airstrike, also confirmed by U.S. Africa Command, killed three militants.

The U.S. military has carried out dozens of airstrikes against al-Shabab and Islamic State militants in support of Somalia’s federal government.

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U.S. military denies Al-Shabaab killed its soldier in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — The United States military confirmed Tuesday no American soldier was killed or injured in southern Somalia as claimed by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which oversees American troops on the continent, dismissed the report as incorrect that the insurgents killed the American soldier on the outskirts of Kismayo during a gun fight early Tuesday.

“We are aware of the reports, but they are incorrect. No U.S military were killed or injured in Somalia, as alleged in the reports,” Africom spokesperson Samantha Reho told Xinhua.

The militants through their radio station, Andalus had reported that the American soldier was killed in a gun battle that took place outside Kismayo town on Tuesday morning.

The allegations came amid intensified security operation by the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) backed by Somalia National Army (SNA) on Al-Shabaab controlled areas in the Lower Shabelle region, destroying several militant bases, checkpoints and explosives including an FM station run by Al-Shabaab.

The allied forces have ramped up offensives against the militants as the African Union forces continue with the drawdown which started with 500 troops last December.

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