Al-Shabaab attacks Kenyan army base in Somalia, claims it killed 51 soldiers

MOGADISHU (BLOOMBERG) - Al-Shabaab attacked a Kenyan army base in southern Somalia on Friday (Jan 27) and claimed at least 51 soldiers died in the assault.

Fighters struck the base at Kulbiyow with rocket-propelled grenades, Mr Mohamed Kus, a resident of the town, said by phone. Farah Ahmed, a Somali army officer, said the militants also used assault rifles.

Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, has waged an insurgency in the Horn of Africa nation since 2006 in a bid to impose its version of Islamic law. While the group was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 by government and African Union forces, it continues to stage deadly gun and bomb attacks.

The Islamist militants gave details of the attack in a statement on Radio Andalus, a pro-insurgency broadcaster, and said that equipment and ammunition was also seized in the raid. Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Njuguna confirmed the attack and said there had been casualties.

"A big operation is currently ongoing, nobody has had time to count casualties, mostly on their side," he said by phone from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

He said Al-Shabaab's claim that it had killed tens of Kenyan soldiers as "propaganda".

In January 2016, the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents attacked a Kenyan camp near the border at El Adde and claimed 100 Kenyan soldiers were killed. The Kenyan government acknowledged the fatalities, without giving its own toll.