MOGADISHU, Somalia — Islamic extremist rebels in Somalia attacked a base for African Union troops in southwestern Somalia on Friday, military officials and insurgents said.
Al-Shabab said dozens of Kenyan soldiers were killed, but the Kenyan military said in a statement that the rebels had attacked Somali government soldiers who were stationed near the base run by the Kenyan contingent. That statement also said that the Kenyans helped the Somalis counterattack.
The attack happened in the town of El-Ade, not far from the Kenyan border. Kenya has provided a major contingent to the AU force which is fighting al-Shabab and assisting the elected government of Somalia.
Al-Shabab spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Mudan said on the group's online radio that at least 63 soldiers have been killed in the attack.
Ahmed Hassan, speaking to The Associated Press by phone from Elwak, a nearby town, said the attack started with a suicide car bomb, and then heavy gunfire was heard as militants stormed into the base.
Despite being pushed out of Somalia's major cities and towns, al-Shabab continues to launch deadly guerrilla attacks across the Horn of Africa country.
The group, which has ties with al-Qaida, has also carried out many deadly attacks inside Kenya.
Abdi Guled, The Associated Press