Nearly 70 dead in al-Shabab attack on Somalia military base

Al-Shabab Fighters Storm Military Base In Somalia

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a Somali-American who was elected in February, has repeatedly said al-Shabab can be defeated within two years, but he warns that could take much longer without a better-equipped national military.

Al Shabab said it had killed 61 soldiers after overrunning the military base. Bari region governor Yusuf Mohamed confirmed that a number of soldiers had been killed during the fierce gunbattles across the troubled region.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group had carried out several big attacks on military bases in Somalia.

It is the latest assault by al-Shabab, which is linked to the Islamic terrorist organization al-Qaida, in Somalia. "It is hard to know the casualties because the telecommunications were cut off", he said. "The security forces have repelled them but there were some casualties", told Ahmed Abdiweli, a local security official, to AFP.

Puntland's military chief Colonel Abdullahi Omar Anshur said the militants attacked the base and the Puntland military engaged heavy fighting. In 2011, al-Shabab was driven out of Mogadishu and other major cities.

Security officials said at least 10 soldiers lost their lives in the violent clashes.

Af Urur lies about 100 km (60 miles) south of Bosaso, near the Galgala hills, an area controlled by al Shabaab. "There are dead bodies and wounded soldiers being brought to the hospital", Hussein Dirie, an elder resident, said. The numbers given by officials and al Shabab often differ.

Somalia has been the scene of fighting between al-Shabab and government forces since 2006.

The assault came days after Puntland sentenced to death five al-Shabab members who were arrested as they drove a vehicle carrying three barrels packed with explosives into Bosaso, Puntland's capital, on April 26.