The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack perpetrated by Al Shabaab militants against an African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) base in Middle Shabele region, southwest of Mogadishu, on 3 May 2022.
Ten Burundian peacekeepers were killed in the attack.
Twenty-five soldiers were also injured and five are missing while 20 Al-Shabaab militants were killed, Burundi’s army said in a statement.
A local military commander, Mohamed Ali, told AFP on Tuesday that the assault began with a car bomb before a furious firefight broke out.
A high-ranking Burundian military officer told AFP that 400 Islamist fighters stormed the base, forcing the Burundian soldiers to retreat to a nearby hillside where they continued to fight, supported by drones and helicopters.
“The provisional toll is 45 soldiers killed or missing, including a battalion commander colonel,” a Burundian military source told AFP on condition of anonymity, while a second source backed up the figures.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had taken control of the camp and that 173 soldiers had been killed.
The AU Chairperson paid tribute to the Burundian peacekeepers who lost their lives helping to bring peace and stability to Somalia.
He extended his sincere condolences to the bereaved families, the Government and the people of the Republic of Burundi, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded as a result of the attack.
The Chairperson reiterated that this heinous attack will not lessen the determination of ATMIS forces and reaffirmed the continued and unwavering commitment of the AU to support the Somali Government and people in their pursuit to achieve sustainable peace and security.
The Chairperson further called on the international community to increase support to the Somali security services and the ATMIS mission commensurate with the security challenges at hand.
Mahamat said on Twitter he spoke to Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye to pay his respects for the “sacrifice” of the peacekeepers who lost their lives.