Map of Somalia
Map of Somalia

MOGADISHU - Gunmen from Somali militant group al-Shabab on Monday attacked a military base in central Somalia, killing at least four soldiers, officials and militants said.

Al-Shabab, which wants to topple a Western-backed government in Mogadishu, has in the past stepped up the number of raids during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in mid-June and ends this week.

Captain Nur Olow, a military officer from Rage Ceele, in Middle Shabelle region in central Somalia, said two al-Shabab fighters were killed during the raid.

"Al-Shabab attacked us early in the morning - we lost four soldiers but repulsed them," Olow said.

Al-Shabab's military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters his fighters had killed a dozen soldiers in the raid.

"We briefly seized the base and killed 12 soldiers and took their guns. We also took all the weapons and ammunition in the base," he said.

In the past, al-Shabab has exaggerated the number of soldiers it has killed, while officials have played down losses.