Al Shabaab militants attack Somali army base, say dozens dead

Al Shabaab and government forces battled for control of a remote army base in Somalia on Friday, after fighters from the Islamist militant group said they attacked the compound, killing dozens of soldiers.

The group, which is aligned with al Qaeda, said it took over the base, about 550 km (340 miles) west of Mogadishu after a suicide bomber from the group rammed its gates. It said it was also in control of the small town of Ceel Cado nearby.

It said it killed 61 Kenyan soldiers serving as part of the African Union forces, while other soldiers escaped. The claim could not be independently verified.

A spokesman for Kenya’s Defence Forces (KDF) said al Shabaab fighters overran a Somalia National Army camp situated close to a second camp run by Kenya Defence forces.

“(Kenyan) troops under (African Union auspices) counter-attacked … The fighting is still going on …and the number of casualties on both sides is unknown,” Col. David Obonyo, KDF spokesman, said in a statement.

A Somali military official confirmed the militants had taken over the base. He said Kenyan troops and about a dozen Somali soldiers were stationed inside the AU compound.

“AMISOM has gone out of the town and base for strategic reasons,” Colonel Farah Surow, a senior military officer stationed about 100 km (60 miles) from the Ceel Cado base, told Reuters.

Source: Lebanese Republic