The Islamist group, which wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government, said it had killed 32 soldiers in the assault. It was not possible to verify independently the death toll. Al Shabaab has inflated casualty figures in the past.
Captain Nur Ali said the attack had taken place early on Sunday morning in the town of Runirgood, about 180 km to the north east of Mogadishu.
“Al Shabaab used a suicide car bomb to penetrate a military base. It exploded and then fierce fighting followed. At least 15 soldiers died,” Major Abdullahi Omar, a second army officer, told Reuters from the region by phone.
“The soldiers (at the base) were few and there were no AMISOM or other military nearby for reinforcement. We killed more than 10 militants in fighting on Saturday and Sunday,” Omar added. AMISOM is the African Union peacekeeping mission.
Residents of Runirgood said they had seen dead bodies of both al Shabaab and government soldiers in the town.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, said its fighters had killed 32 soldiers and captured three vehicles.
“It was a fierce battle and thank Allah, we recaptured the town,” he told Reuters.