Mogadishu (Somalia): A team of suicide bombers and gunmen disguised as soldiers have assaulted an African Union base in the Somali capital, sparking a two-hour gunfight that left at least 10 people dead, security officials said.
   
The al-Qaida-linked Islamist militant group that claimed the attack said one of the bombers was Somali-American.
   
The attack underscored the militants' ability to carry out complex and deadly operations even after AU troops forced them from most of Mogadishu and a famine in their strongholds weakened their forces.
   
Earlier this month, Kenya sent troops into Somalia following a string of cross-border attacks and kidnappings blamed on Somali gunmen and militants battling Somalia's weak, UN-backed government.
   
During Satuday's attack, the two suicide bombers blew themselves up near the entrance to the compound, then more armed attackers jumped over the walls, a Nairobi-based security official said. He asked for anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.
   
The true extent of casualties from the assault was unclear, although a Somali soldier, Col. Nor Abdi, said at least 10 people were killed.
   
"They were dressed in Somali military uniform and disguised as ordinary soldiers," Abdi said. "Then they tried to enter the base and (AU) soldiers fired at them. Then heavy gunfire started and all of them were killed. I don't know how many they were but they were more than 10 men."
   
In a claim posted on a website it frequently uses, al-Shabab militants said one of the bombers was a Somali-American and claimed he was the second Somali-American involved in a suicide attack in Mogadishu within five months. They did not name the youth or offer further details, and the claim could not immediately be independently verified.


(Agencies)