UPDATE: Al Shabaab launches suicide and gun attack on AMISOM base

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Heavy fighting has been reported at a military base run by Ethiopian troops serving as part of the African Union force in a Somali village about 260 kilometers north of Mogadishu, according to witnesses.

Residents said a suicide car bomb first exploded outside the main entrance of the base in the village of Halgan.  That was followed by attacks by heavily armed militants. The Ethiopian military base is located in the south of the village.

A Somali military colonel who did not want to be named said he contacted officials in the village who told him Al-Shabab militants reached the edges of the fence at the base but were met with heavy response by the Ethiopian troops.

Ethiopian helicopters dispatched from a nearby base are carrying out airstrikes, he said. Fighting which started at around 5 a.m. local time (10 p.m. ET) is reportedly continuing.

Suicide car bombs coupled with forceful storming of bases has been the hallmark of Al-Shabab raids against heavily fortified AU military bases in Somalia since last year.

Since June of last year, Al-Shabab has attacked and overtaken three main AMISOM military bases killing 54 Burundian soldiers in Leego town, 19 Ugandans in Jannaale and more than 100 Kenyans in El-Adde.

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