Al-Shabab militants attacked an African Union military base Friday in southwestern Somalia, near the border with Kenya, reportedly killing dozens of Kenyan troops working for the African Union mission.
Friday's early morning attack in the town of Elbe in Gedo region, started with a suicide bombing and was followed by a firefight with Kenyan troops stationed at the base.
Kenyan Defense Forces said in a statement that al-Shabab militia attacked a Somalian army base near the Kenyan forces' base. The statement said the militants overran the camp but the Kenyans counterattacked, in support of the Somali troops.
Al-Shabab says 60 Kenyan troops were killed in the clashes, but Deputy Gedo Governor Mohamed Hussein Isaak told VOA that at least 40 Kenyan soldiers were killed and said some troops managed to escape the base.
Residents say al-Shabab has taken control of the town and surrounding areas and has hoisted its flag. The residents also say the militants seized weapons on military vehicles.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack in a statement, saying, "This attack will not diminish the resolve of the United Nations to work hand in hand with the African Union and AMISOM to support the people and Government of Somalia."
The African Union Mission in Somalia said this attack "demonstrates the vile nature of Al Shabab, whose sole purpose is to spread terror and continue the destabilization of Somalia."
"Our resolve can only be rejuvenated, to fight on until Somalia is freed of all elements of terror," the AMISOM Statement said.
Al-Shabab carried out similar attacks on AU facilities in June and in September of last year. Dozens of peacekeeping troops were killed in those attacks.