Somalia’s al Shabaab militant group said it ran a suicide car bomb into an African Union military base, in the central town of Halgan, raged inside and killed 43 Ethiopian soldiers on Thursday.
The AU force said it had repulsed an “attempted attack”.
Residents nearby said they heard a huge explosion and heavy exchanges of gunfire shortly before dawn.
“There was an attempted attack this morning. They were repulsed. Our troops are in control of the situation,” a spokesman for the African Union’s AMISOM force said in a brief statement, noting that he did not provide further details or any casualties.
AMISOM, made up of troops from African nations supporting Somalia’s Western-backed government and army in the fight against the al Qaeda-linked militants, usually says it is up to troop-contributing countries to announce casualties.
“We understand there are casualties on both sides. AU forces fought back fiercely and repulsed al Shabaab,” Somali military officer Major Abdifatah Elmi told Reuters from Bulaburde town in the region. But he said he did not have figures.