January 2, 2015 / 9:44 AM / in 3 years

At least seven killed in al Shabaab attack at Somali military base

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalian al Shabaab militants attacked a military base in the outskirts of the town of Baidoa on Friday morning, killing at least seven soldiers, a Somali military official said.

Residents evacuate a civilian injured in a car bomb explosion near the Taleex junction of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 2, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The attack came two days after the United States said it had killed the chief of al Shabaab’s intelligence and security wing, Tahliil Abdishakur, in a drone strike. Al Shabaab seeks to topple the Western-backed Mogadishu government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law.

“Al Shabaab attacked our base unexpectedly, early in the morning today. We lost seven soldiers,” Captain Ahmed Idow, a Somali military officer, told Reuters by telephone from Baidoa.

Idow said Somali soldiers killed three al Shabaab insurgents during the attack.

A spokesman for al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab said the group had briefly seized the base and killed more than 10 soldiers. Al Shabaab often cites a higher death toll than the number given by officials.

“We fiercely attacked the military base near Baidoa,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters.

In a separate incident in central Somalia on Friday, al Shabaab ambushed a government convoy carrying food aid, killing one soldier, according to Somali officials.

A spokesman for al Shabaab confirmed the group was behind the attack.

Writing by Edith Honan; editing by Ralph Boulton

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