Al-Shabab fighters attack Kenya military base in Somalia

Somalia al-Shabab fighters gather on February 13, 2012 in Elasha Biyaha, in the Afgoei Corridor Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption This is not the first time that al-Shabab fighters have attacked a Kenyan military base in Somalia

Islamist militant al-Shabab fighters have launched an attack on a Kenyan military base in southern Somalia.

The al-Qaeda-linked group says it has killed more than 50 soldiers and seized military vehicles and weapons.

But a Kenyan military spokesman said the dawn attack was repelled, the base was not overrun and scores of insurgents were killed in the fighting.

A year ago al-Shabab carried out a similar attack on a Kenyan base in the town el-Ade.

In that raid the Islamist group said it had killed more than 100 soldiers, but the Kenyan government refused to give its casualty figures.

Kenya's ministry of defence spokesman has not confirmed the deaths of any soldiers in the latest attack.

Lt Col Paul Njuguna, however, did say that soldiers had killed "scores" of al-Shabab fighters when the attackers tried to enter the camp in Kolbiyow, near the Kenyan border, after setting off a car bomb.

Who controls Somalia?

Al-Shabab says it has taken control of the base and surrounding area, according to the AFP news agency.

Kenya contributes more than 3,600 troops to the Africa Union mission helping the UN-backed government tackle al-Shabab in Somalia.

Lessons not learnt - Tomi Oladipo, BBC Monitoring Africa Security Correspondent

It appears lessons have not been learnt from the attack on the Kenyan base in el-Ade town last year. Regardless of the death toll this time, al-Shabab's audacity to repeat such an assault on a location where the Kenyans should be strongest reveals how much work still needs to be done in counterinsurgency.

The attack will also spur calls in Kenya for a review of its ambitions to stabilise its north-eastern neighbour, where it first sent soldiers in October 2011.

There appears to be a view in the government that the greater the silence about its losses in the battlefield, the less criticism it will receive. There are still unanswered questions from el-Ade, with some families of slain soldiers left in the dark about the fate of their loved ones.

One year later, this latest attack is proving that there is only so much that the Kenya and African Union mission can sweep under the carpet.

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Media captionKenya keeps quiet on military defeat

Attacks on Amisom troops

Image copyright AFP


  • 9 June: Al-Shabab said they killed 60 Ethiopian soldiers in Halgan - Ethiopia denied any soldiers were killed
  • 21 April: Six Ethiopian troops killed in blast in Bay Region
  • 22 February: 15 Ethiopian troops dead in clashes in Lower Shabeelle
  • 15 January: Scores of Kenyan troops killed in an attack on base in el-Ade


  • 1 September: More than 20 killed in suicide attack on base in Janale, including at least 12 Ugandan troops
  • 26 June: At least 50 Burundian troops killed in attack on base near Mogadishu


  • 20 October: 70 Amisom and Somali troops killed in clashes in Mogadishu.

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