Somalia’s al-Shabab detonated a suicide car bomb then stormed a military base in the country’s south, claiming at least 27 soldiers were killed.
An official said the military repelled the attack and killed 87 fighters in fighting, dismissing the claim on Monday that dozens of Somali troops were dead.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s spokesman, said attackers overran the base in Baar Sanguni village – about 50km from the port city of Kismayo.
“We first attacked the base with a suicide car bomb and then stormed,” said Musab. “We killed 27 soldiers and took the base. Some soldiers fled into the jungles.”
The military sent reinforcements to the base following the explosion and heavy fighting.
Assistant information minister Aden Isak Ali told state news agency SONNA that soldiers were hunting down attackers who fled the base. “The national army defended itself and killed 87 militants,” he said.
However, Colonel Ahmed Hassan said troops killed 10 attackers.
The attack followed one last month by al-Shabab on the same base that wounded seven soldiers.
The armed group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Al-Shabab has killed thousands of Somalis across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.