Mogadishu — Al Shabaab fighters killed at least 15 soldiers in an attack on a military base near Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, the militant group and Somali officials said on Friday.
The militants used guns and car bombs to take control of the base and a nearby town, Barire, 50 km (30 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, in an early-morning attack.
The fighters also took 11 pickup trucks mounted with machine guns, said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operation spokesman.
"The other soldiers ran helter-skelter into the woods. We now control the base and the village," he said.
A Somali military officer put the number of dead at 15; al Shabaab said 21 were killed.
"There was a battalion of soldiers but it was a fierce fighting; twin suicide car bombs and hand-to-hand fighting," Captain Osman Ali said.
"The attacked soldiers were Somali military and special forces trained by the U.S. called Danab. There were neither AMISOM nor other foreigners there," Ali added, referring to African Union peacekeeping troops. Reinforcements were being sent, he said.