Al-Shabab militant base 'attacked' on coast of Somalia

The BBC's Abdirahman Koronto: Al-Shabab leaders have been known to frequent Barawe

Islamist fighters in southern Somalia say Western forces have launched a night-time raid on one of their bases.

The militant group al-Shabab told the BBC "white soldiers" had arrived by boat at the port of Barawe and rebels had repulsed them, losing a fighter.

No-one has admitted the attack. US and French special forces have carried out raids in Somalia in recent years.

It is not clear whether it is linked to last month's attack in neighbouring Kenya, which al-Shabab has claimed.

At least 67 people were killed after militants stormed the Westgate shopping centre in the capital, Nairobi, on 21 September.

Residents in Barawe, which is controlled by militants, say they were woken up by heavy fighting before dawn on Saturday.

"Gunfire broke out for about 10-15 minutes," an eyewitness told AFP news agency.

It is not clear who the target of the raid was.

Several residents are quoted as saying the soldiers tried to storm a house sheltering senior al-Shabab leaders.

The BBC's Mark Doyle recently travelled with African Union peacekeepers into an al-Shabab-controlled area of Somalia

However, an unnamed Somali intelligence official told the Associated Press news agency that the targets had been "high-profile" foreigners.

Local al-Shabab commander Mohamed Abu Suleiman said the raid had failed and the group remained in control of Barawe.

Commando raids on al-Shabab

  • 5 October 2013: Helicopter and boat strike by unknown forces on Barawe
  • 12 January 2013: Two French commandos killed in failed mission to rescue agent held in Bulo Marer
  • 14 September 2009: US Navy commandos kill Kenyan-born al-Qaeda commander Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in raid on Barawe

Later, Reuters carried a statement by Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's military operations spokesman, which said that British and Turkish special forces were involved.

He said the commander of the British force was killed, and four SAS and a Turkish soldier were wounded.

However, the UK's Ministry of Defence said there was "no British involvement", while a Turkish foreign ministry official told Reuters that Turkish special forces had also not taken any part.

Western navies tasked with fighting piracy patrol the seas off Somalia, which has been beset by conflict for more than two decades.

In 2009, US Navy commandos attacked and killed an al-Qaeda leader, Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, in a daylight raid on Barawe.

Washington has also used drones in Somalia to support the government and African Union forces in their battle against al-Shabab.

France carried out an unsuccessful raid to free a French intelligence agent in January. Two French commandos were killed and al-Shabab later reported that it had killed the agent.

More on This Story

Somalia: Failed State

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories


Features & Analysis

  • Over 1000 of the building's windows are blown out, as shown in this photo from October 2013.Back on track

    Restoring former glories of an 18-storey railway station

  • Yeti tweetCocktails and yetis

    10 strange things Americans are doing with all the snow

  • Gabi Bird love

    The girl who gets gifts from crows in return for nuts and affection

  • llamasLlama drama

    Two unlikely fugitives have Twitter enthralled

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • BooksNew novels

    BBC Culture takes a look at ten new books to read in March


  • TomatoesClick Watch

    The smart garden that fits inside your house and provides fresh healthy food

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.