Foreign special forces in an attack helicopter staged a nighttime raid on a key base of Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, the insurgents said Saturday, claiming the assault had failed.
Islamist commanders in the southern Somali port of Barawe said commandos — presumed to be from a Western nation — rappelled from a helicopter as they tried to storm a house belonging to a senior Shabab commander.
The assault comes two weeks after Shabab gunmen attacked Kenya’s Westgate shopping mall, massacring 67 people in a four-day siege.
“The enemy of Allah tried to surprise the mujahedeen commanders with a night attack using a military helicopter, but they were taught a lesson and they have failed,” Mohamed Abu Suleiman told AFP, the Shebab commander in the small seaside town.
“Our mujahedeen fighters inside the house fought back and the cowards ran away,” Suleiman added.
Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said attackers also stormed the beach by boat. “Where the foreigners had been, afterwards we saw lots of blood, so maybe we wounded some,” he added.
Witnesses reported heavy gunfire as the helicopter hovered overhead. “I woke to the sound of the helicopter above the neighborhood, then a few minutes later, there was fighting, gunfire broke out for about 10-15 minutes,” a local resident said, who asked not to be named.
“We don’t know what exactly happened, but it was an organised attack targeting the house where some al-Shabab commanders were.”