The Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab said on Sunday that it had captured some Kenyan soldiers during its attack Friday on a base of African Union peacekeepers in southwestern Somalia.
On Sunday four wounded Kenyan soldiers were airlifted back home but Kenyan officials gave no death toll. President Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed on Friday that some soldiers had been killed in the attack, which involved suicide car bombs and gunmen.
Kenyan Defense Secretary Raychelle Omamo told reporters Sunday that there is an ongoing search, rescue and recovery operation in the area where the attack happened.
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“The operation area remains dangerous, volatile and fluid, and our soldiers still remain at risk,” she said, adding that information about casualties is being given directly to families.
In a statement Sunday, al-Shabab claimed the number of dead Kenyan troops had risen to 100. It was not possible to verify that figure.
“This audacious attack — the largest single attack against the Kenyan military inside Somalia — comes as a response to the aggressive Kenyan invasion of Muslim lands and the Kenyan military’s continued persecution of innocent Muslims, particularly in the northeast and the coastal regions,” the statement said.
Al-Shabab also claimed its fighters seized armaments and military vehicles in the attack in the town of El-Ade near the Kenyan border.
Al-Shabab, which opposes Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia and describes the Kenyans as invaders, has carried out many deadly attacks inside Kenyan territory.
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.
African Union troops, government officials and foreigners are frequently targeted.