A car bomber and a group of gunmen on Monday struck an air base in Somalia that American forces use in the fight against the militant group known as the Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
Another car bombing took place later in the morning in Mogadishu, the capital. The explosion missed its apparent target, a group of Italian peacekeeping troops, but injured some Somali civilians, according to local news reports.
The first attack hit the Bale Dogle airfield, about 55 miles northwest of central Mogadishu, in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia. A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the gate of the airstrip, according to Lt. Cmdr. Desiree Frame, a spokeswoman for the United States Africa Command, and Yusuf Abdourahman, a security official with the Lower Shabelle regional administration.
The Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement claiming that its fighters had “stormed the military complex, engaging the crusaders in an intense firefight.” There were reports of gunfire at the base after the explosion.
Commander Frame declined to say whether there had been any casualties.
The Shabab, an extremist Islamist group seeking to overthrow the Western-backed government, has lost much of the territory it once controlled. But it continues to pose a persistent threat, carrying out a string of attacks in Somalia and elsewhere in East Africa.
American helicopters based at the Bale Dogle base carry out airstrikes against the Shabab, and the base is also used by United States forces to train the Somali army’s elite Danab units.
For three decades, Somalia has been in a state of intermittent civil war. It had no central government for several years, and at other times the governments were fragile and could not exercise any authority over parts of the country.