Islamist militant al-Shabab fighters have launched an attack on a Kenyan military base in southern Somalia.
The al-Qaeda-linked group says it has killed 57 soldiers and seized military vehicles and weapons.
But a Kenyan military spokesman said the dawn attack was repelled, the base was not overrun and scores of insurgents were killed in the fighting.
A year ago al-Shabab carried out a similar attack on a Kenyan base in the town el-Ade .
In that raid the Islamist group said it had killed more than 100 soldiers, but the Kenyan government refused to give its own casualty figures.
KDF camp in Kulbiyow comes under Al-Shabaab attack
FRIDAY JANUARY 27 2017
A Kenyan military camp in Kulbiyow, Somalia, came under heavy fire on January 27, 2017 after suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked the base. PHOTO | GOOGLE MAPS.
- Although the military spokesman didn’t offer finer details on the exchange, he said the Kenyan troops have been pinned down.
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Suspected Al-Shabaab militants have attacked a Kenyan military camp in Kulbiyow, Lower Jubba, Somalia, some 18 kilometres from the Kenyan border.
The KDF base was attacked at 5am on Friday and the number of casualties remains unconfirmed.
“We are under massive attack and there is massive exchange of fire,” military spokesman Lt-Col Paul Njuguna told Nation.co.ke
Although the military spokesman did not offer finer details on the exchange, he said the Kenyan troops had been pinned down.
Al-Shabaab fighters, the Voice of America reports, drove a truck filled with explosives and detonated them inside the base, followed by heavy gunfire and an infantry attack.
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Al-Shabaab, Reuters reports, claimed it had killed 57 Kenyan soldiers, an allegation Lt-Col Njuguna denied.
“That is false,” he told Reuters, in reference to Al-Shabaab’s claim that 57 soldiers were killed although he did not give any casualty figures.
“The operation is ongoing. We are receiving updates,” the officer added.
He denied claims that KDF camp had been overran by Al-Shabaab.
“Our soldiers repulsed the terrorists who had tried to access the camp using a Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device,” Lt-Col Njuguna said in a statement.
The Kenya Air Force and the Kenya Army, he said, were undertaking an intensive pacification operation in the border town.
“Our soldiers remain vigilant and will continue to relentlessly pursue the terrorists to ensure secure Kenya and Somalia,” he said.
“It is important to note that the information peddled by the terrorists, our camp has not been overran,” he added.
The militant group has an elaborate propaganda machinery, with a spokesmen to boot, that fights to advance its war against the western-backed Mogadishu administration and its allies, including Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, its military operation spokesman, had claimed they had also taken over the camp and seized weapons and military vehicles.
“We are pursuing the Kenyan soldiers who ran away into the woods,” he told Reuters.
“Two mujahideen (fighters) rammed suicide car bombs into the base in Kulbiyow town before storming it,” he said.
Kenyan soldiers are fighting the rag-tag militia under the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) that has lost hundreds of soldiers in camp attacks.
Besides Kenya, Al-Shabaab has attacked camps belonging to Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia, with Uganda and Burundi suffering massive causalities.
The Kulbiyow attack comes a year after Kenya lost over 100 troops when Al-Shabaab overran a KDF camp in El-Adde on the dawn of January 15, 2016.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who wants Kenyan troops pulled out of Somalia, condemned the morning attack, calling it “unacceptable”.