Bosasso, April 23 (Reuters) - A military vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Somalia’s semi autonomous Puntland region on Sunday, killing at least six soldiers and injuring another eight, a military official told Reuters.
The al Qaeda linked Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened on the outskirts of the region’s port city of Bosasso.
Al Shabaab is fighting to topple the Horn of Africa country’s western backed government and wants to rule the country according to its strict version of Islamic sharia law.
It also wants to drive out of Somalia Africa Union peace keeping force AMISOM that helps defend the country’s central government.
Mohamed Ibrahim, a major in Puntland’s military, told Reuters the vehicle, a pickup truck, was from Galgala hills, about 40 kilometers southwest of Bosasso.
“Our military pickup hit a roadside bomb today, six soldiers died, eight others were injured,” Ibrahim said, adding two of the injured were in a serious condition.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters the group had carried out the attack and that some troops had died while others were injured.
“We are behind the attack,” he said.
Al Shabaab once controlled much of Somalia but in 2011 it was driven out of the capital Mogadishu and has since lost most other former strongholds.
But its fighters remain a formidable threat and constantly carry out bombings against both military and civilian targets in Mogadishu and elsewhere.
Officially called the Puntland State of Somalia, the region in northeastern Somalia declared autonomy 1998. However it does not seek independence.
Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan and Feisal Omar; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Clelia Oziel