NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – Dozens of Kenyan and Somali troops are feared dead after suspected Al-Shabaab militants overran a military camp during an ongoing gun-and-bomb attack in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Kenyan military said Friday.
Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) spokesman Col. David Obonyo told Anadolu Agency that Kenyan jets were responding to the attack with airstrikes, claiming that at least 100 militants had been killed so far.
The attack on the military camp took place about 550 kilometers (342 miles) from the Kenyan border in Mogadishu’s south-west Ceel Cedo district.
The Somali militant group, Al-Shabaab, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., claimed responsibility for the attack.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement later in the evening indicated that there were several dead on the Kenyan side.
“I want to take this opportunity to express mine and the country’s deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of the fallen. I stand with you. Our country stands with you,” Kenyatta said.
The president vowed to win the fight in Somalia as clashes at the military facility continued.
“With our allies, we will continue in Somalia to fulfill our mission. We will hunt down the criminals involved in today’s events. Our soldiers’ blood will not be shed in vain,” he said.
While Kenyan authorities refrained from giving an exact death toll, Al-Shabaab claimed killing 60 soldiers.
“Our fighters launched an attack on the most important stronghold of Kenyan forces in the city of Cedo, and managed to take control, having killed 60 Kenyan soldiers,” Abdulaziz Abu Musab, an Al-Shabaab spokesman, said in a broadcast of the militant group’s radio channel “Andalus”.
Earlier, Kenyan defense spokesman claimed the target was a Somali National Army (SNA) base, not the Kenyan camp in the area. However, he did not confirm or deny that several Kenyan soldiers were also killed in the attack.
“Today, Jan. 15, 2016, at 4 a.m. [Friday] Al-Shabaab militia attacked the Somali National Army [SNA] camp, which is in close proximity to the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] camp in Elade Somalia,” Obonyo said.
“The SNA camp was overrun and the KDF troops under AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] counter-attacked in support of SNA; the fighting is still ongoing and the number of casualties on both sides is still unknown,” he said.
About the Kenyan airstrikes, the spokesman said: “After the morning attack, we responded immediately, KDF fighter jets are bombarding key Al-Shabab bases in the area, killing around 100.”
“We are also attacking remnants of the militants on the ground near the location that was attacked today,” he said.
Obonyohe said the operation remained going, including at the Kenyan camp in Wargadud.
Residents in Ceel Cedo wrote on social media platforms Friday that they could hear sporadic gunfire in the area.
Al-Shabaab has in the past carried out numerous attacks on African Union bases in Somalia.
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