At least 12 people were killed early Monday when al-Shabab militants carried out a raid on a Somali military base in the Lower Juba region.
Officials told VOA Somali the attack targeted the Sanguni camp, located about 50 kilometers north of the port town of Kismayo.
Mukhtar Abdi Mohamed, a unit commander with Somali forces in Sanguni, says troops identified two car bombs and detonated them before the vehicles could reach the base.
Mohamed said 80 to 100 militants attacked the base from the north, sparking a fierce firefight. Somali officials say four soldiers and at least eight militants were killed, including the drivers of the two vehicles.
"We had the information about the attack,” Mohamed said.
“If we didn’t have prior information, we would not have been able to destroy the vehicles before they entered the camp,” he added.
Al-Shabab said it had "overrun" the camp and killed 27 government soldiers.
Mohamed dismissed the al-Shabab report, calling it a “baseless claim intended to attract media attention."
Sanguni is the same camp where an American soldier was killed in June when al-Shabab fired mortars at the base. It’s not clear if any U.S. advisers were at Sanguni at the time of Monday’s attack.