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Al-Shabab Captures Military Base in Somalia Before Withdrawing

Bodies of Kenyan soldiers are transported by ambulances as they arrive at Wilson airport, Nairobi Kenya, Jan 27, 2017. A spokesman for extremist group al-Shabab says its fighters have killed at least 51 Kenyan soldiers in an attack on an army base in Kulb

The Mayor of the Somali town of Kulbiyow near the border with Kenya has been killed in a deadly dawn attack by al-Shabab militants, residents and military sources have confirmed.

Mohamed Tohyare Nuh was killed inside the Kenyan military base after al-Shabab militants stormed the base early Friday, a resident and a military officer told VOA's Somali service. Nuh was one of three civilians killed in the attack, two others were wounded, according to residents.

A Somali military official told VOA that two soldiers were killed in the attack and a third soldier was wounded.

Al-Shabab militants have now pulled out of the town after burning military vehicles they seized and removing military trucks from the base.

A resident told VOA that he could see military jets and helicopters flying over the town. Columns of Kenyan and Somali forces left Haluqa village, 18 kilometers from Kulbiyow and are now on their way to the scene, an officer said.

Militants withdraw after capturing base

Early Friday, al-Shabab fighters captured the military base run by Kenyan and Somali troops in Kulbiyow after a massive attack. The base is about a kilometer away from the town, residents said.

Residents there said the attack started when a truck filled with explosives detonated at the base, followed by heavy gunfire.

Two residents in the town said al-Shabab militants attacked the town and captured the base before withdrawing hours later.

A Somali military officer told VOA , "Small surveillance drones spotted the oncoming al-Shabab fighters." He said the troops fired mortars at the insurgents, but that failed to stop them and the militants later drove "two explosive-laden trucks into the base."

A small number of Somali forces and Kenyan troops fought to hold off the attack from al-Shabab, but the militants detonated more explosives and continued heavy gunfire.

Residents said the fighting lasted more than 90 minutes as the militants overpowered the Somali and Kenyan troops.

Al-Shabab militants have claimed killing 57 Kenya soldiers in the attack, but Kenya's defense ministry quickly dismissed the claim.

In the dawn attack, Al-Shabab tried to access the camp using a suicide attacker in a vehicle, the defense ministry said in a statement. "KDF soldiers repulsed the terrorists, killing scores," according to the ministry.

Residents said the militants launched the attack from the nearby town of Badhadhe.

Kulbiyow is a Somali town in Lower Jubba close to the border with Kenya.
Just two days ago, Kenyan troops at Kulbiyow attacked an al-Shabab base at Badhadhe before retreating back to Kulbiyow.