Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab says it has killed 43 Ethiopian soldiers in an attack on their base serving with the African Union’s AMISOM force in Somalia.
The town of Halgan, where Thursday’s attack occurred, lies in the Hiraan region of central Somalia, about 300km north of the capital Mogadishu.
“Our fighters stormed the Halgan base of AMISOM … We killed 43 AU soldiers from Ethiopia in the fighting,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operations spokesperson, told Reuters news agency.
He said “several” al-Shabab fighters had died in the raid but he did not give a figure.
The AU mission (AMISOM) on the other hand says it repulsed the attack and killed 110 militants.
Residents in Halgan told the BBC they had heard a huge bang followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire.
AMISOM supports the government as it fights to regain control of the country from al-Shabab.
In a series of tweets it has said its soldiers, alongside troops from the Somali army, “drove back the attackers who are now on the run with the joint forces in pursuit”.
But AMISOM has not confirmed the death toll on its side.
Ethiopia is one of five countries contributing troops to the 22,000-strong mission and this is the first time an Ethiopian-run AMISOM base has been attacked.
Halgan, 260km (161 miles) north of the capital, Mogadishu, is part of the area of Somalia patrolled by Ethiopian soldiers.
In January, Al-Shabab targeted a Kenyan base in el-Ade, southern Somalia.
It said it had killed more than 100 soldiers but the Kenyan authorities have not confirmed the death toll.
Al-Shabab has also attackedAMISOM bases run by troops from Burundi and Uganda.
* The BBC and AlJazeera contributed to this story