More than 300 people were killed when Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab attacked an African Union (AU) military base in central Somalia, government officials and militants said Thursday.
AU peacekeepers from Ethiopia killed more than 240 insurgents, who had attacked their compound in the town of Halgan, Somali security minister Abdirisak Omar Mohamed told journalists in the capital, Mogadishu.
At least three civilians were also killed in the attack and several others were injured, said Mohamed.
Al-Shabaab meanwhile said it killed 60 AU soldiers during the clashes, after initially claiming its fighters had killed 43 peacekeepers.
The Somalian government confirmed only the deaths of eight soldiers, however, while al-Shabaab said 16 of its fighters had been killed.
The dawn assault on the AU military base began with a suicide car bombing at the entrance to the compound, a Somali army official told dpa.
Dozens of heavily armed militants then fired at the base with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the official said on condition of anonymity.
After about an hour, the peacekeepers were able to defeat the insurgents with the help of Somali troops and gunfire from military helicopters, according to officials.
Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab claimed responsibility shortly after the attack on pro-insurgent radio station Anadlus.