Al-Shabab fighters have killed at least eight Somali officers in a raid on a police station near the capital Mogadishu, according to a police officer.
Al-Shabab, which wants to topple the UN-backed government in Mogadishu, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s raid in Afgoi town, 30km southwest of Mogadishu.
“Al-Shabab killed eight of my colleagues and took three of our cars,” Major Abdikadir Hussein told Reuters news agency on Saturday.
“We traced them this morning, killed 10 of them and secured our pick-up car with a gun hooked on.”
He said the remaining fighters escaped with the other two police vehicles.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operations spokesperson, told Reuters his fighters killed 12 officers in the raid on the Afgoi police station.
In the past, al-Shabab has exaggerated the number of soldiers it has killed while officials have played down losses.
The attack came just days after security forces foiled an attempt by al-Shabab fighters to launch a suicide attack on a political conference in the central Somali town of Adado, killing three attackers and the driver of a car packed with explosives.
Somalia has been unstable since the collapse of Siad Barre’s government in 1991, and the country’s new government is being supported by the 22,000-strong African Union force.
Last month, the Somali government banned journalists from using the word al-Shabab to refer to the armed group, instead ordering them to refer to the group as “the group that massacres the Somali people”.