Islamist militants have attacked a military base in southern Somalia, detonating a suicide car bomb and sending in gunmen.
The attack follows a June attack on the base by al Shabaab that wounded seven soldiers. The group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.
An al-Shabab spokesman said 27 soldiers were killed in the raid at Baar Sanguni, near Kismayo.
But the claim cannot be independently verified and the Somali government has not yet commented on the attack – which began just after early morning prayers.
“We first attacked the base with a suicide car bomb and then stormed,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations. “We killed 27 soldiers and took the base. Some soldiers fled into the jungles.”
The military was sending reinforcements to the base following the reports of an explosion and heavy fighting after the rebel attack, one official said.
“We have sent reinforcement to the base,” Majo Mohamud Aden, a Somali military officer, told Reuters from Kismayu.
“We understand there was an explosion and heavy fighting between al Shabaab, who attacked the base, and the Somali forces. We have no details so far.”
Residents of the town of Jamame, 70 km (44 miles) away from Kismayu, said they heard the blast, followed by gunfire.
The jihadist group targeted a military base in the same area in June. During that attack an American soldier was killed and four others were wounded
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