Somali Islamist militant group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility Tuesday for attacking a police station in Beledweyne, Somalia, near the border with Ethiopia.
"We attacked the Baldweyne police station and killed many Somali police and Djiboutians," Al Shabaab's military spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters.
Sources reported that either 19 or 22 people, including militants, died in the attack.
Witnesses said the militants exploded a car outside the entrance to the station, run by African Union forces. Four gunmen then rushed into the compound and started shooting.
African peacekeepers and Somali troops surrounded the police station and fired back. The firefight lasted several hours.
Col. Osman Dubbad, commander of Djiboutian troops in Beledweyne, said 10 militants died, including the two suicide bombers. Al Shabaab claimed many of its men fled the scene unharmed.
At least 10 security officials at the police station — six Somali policemen and four Djiboutian soldiers serving as peacekeepers for the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM — were killed, Col. Abdilkadir Osman, a local police officer, said. Two civilians were also killed, officials reported.
Al Shabaab said it was behind the attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed at least 67 people in September.
"Our enemies need to understand that these attacks do nothing to advance their cause, however misguided," Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said of Tuesday's attack. "We are making great progress while our enemies are on the back foot and reduced to sporadic and self-defeating attacks with no regard to life."
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