Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab fighters in Somalia claimed to have trammeled an attack involving US special forces overnight Monday to Tuesday near the town of Toratorow, about 60 kilometres south of the capital.
Residents confirmed that heavily armed soldiers backed by helicopters had staged a raid but could not identify the troops.
The Islamist group’s Andalus Radio said in a statement posted on its Instreaming account that they had advance warning of the raid. “The information was already there when they left Belidogle air base,” it said.
It added that the Shebab “forces have repelled the Americans. There was heavy fighting which continued for a while, the helicopters landed and collected them back, having failed” their mission.
Sources said that Somali commandos trained by US forces may have taken part in the raid.
It was not immediately possible to identify the target of the raid, though helicopter-backed operations are generally aimed at freeing hostages or eliminating Shehab leaders.
“There was a raid last night, we don’t have details but the information we have got indicates that dozens of Special Forces some of them foreigners were involved in the raid”, Abdukadir Moalim, an elder at a nearby village, said by phone.
Witnesses reported helicopters were used in the raid which lasted more than 40 minutes.
“There were two helicopters last night, I saw them flying in a low level and we could hear the fire exchange and blasts”, said Ahmed Faroje.