Islamist al Shabaab militants killed 12 Somali soldiers and briefly captured a military base south-west of the capital, officials said, underscoring the insurgents’ ability to launch attacks despite a government offensive.
A suicide bomber detonated at the El Salini base before gunmen stormed in and briefly occupied it, police said. The military recaptured the base when reinforcements arrived.
“They took the base, weapons and ammunition, this includes anti-aircraft guns on pickups,” said Nur Ahmed, a police officer from Afgoye in Lower Shabelle region.
Military officer Ismail Ali said 12 soldiers were killed and the base commander was injured.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility.
“We took the base. We took two pickups with anti-aircraft guns. We destroyed four military vehicles,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters.
He said attackers killed 15 soldiers.
Al Shabaab is fighting the UN-backed Somali government in a bid to impose their strict version of Islamic law.