Somalia president back home after a 4-day visit to Uganda
Last weekend, the authorities in Somalia said they had killed more than 100 Al Shabab militants who had made a cross-border incursion.
ATO, Somalia - Al Shabab militants have attacked a military base on the Somalia-Ethiopia border, triggering fierce fighting that caused an unknown number of casualties, security officials said.
Friday's strike was the latest in the area by the Somalia-based militant group in a matter of weeks, raising concerns about the stability of the border region.
Mortar shells hit the base in Ato, sparking a gun battle that involved the Ethiopian military and Liyu special police from the country's Somali region, the sources said.
"We are getting information that armed confrontation broke out between Al Shabab and the Liyu police this morning around Ato," Mohamud Adan, a local security official in the nearby town of El-Berde, told AFP news agency by phone.
"The terrorists fired rounds of mortar shells before the direct confrontation started," he added.
"The forces have managed to repel the desperate terrorist attackers and there are some casualties even though we don't have the details."
Madker Mursal, a security commander in the Ato area, said the militants used mortar and artillery fire in the attack that lasted almost two hours, and that Ethiopian forces responded, with backup from combat helicopters.
The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab claimed the attack in a brief statement, saying it had overrun the base and killed over 100 Ethiopian police.
Last weekend, the authorities in Somalia said they had killed more than 100 Al Shabab militants who had made a cross-border incursion.Source:/AFP
Uganda is the first country sent troops to Somalia in 2007 and has the largest number of soldiers in AU mission battling Al-Shabaab.