Al Shabaab militants attacked two military bases belonging to the Somali National Army early on Saturday morning, witnesses and the militants said.
Al Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, is made up of Islamist militants who have waged years of attacks and levied tolls on trade in a campaign to introduce strict religious law.
The bases, located about 100 km southwest of the capital Mogadishu, were struck by two explosions, the Reuters reported.
A third explosion targeted a convoy of troops rushing to the bases from the capital after the attack.
The al Shabaab said it had launched a vehicle borne suicide bomb attack on the Bariire base while simultaneously attacking the nearby Awdhigle base with a car bomb and fighters, to prevent troops stationed there from reinforcing Bariire.
“We overran Bariire base, burnt three military vehicles and took two vehicles,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s for military operations said.
He confirmed that a third vehicle borne explosive device hit a convoy of government troops racing from Mogadishu with reinforcements.
Hussein Nur, a military officer, said the army lost “several” soldiers in the attack on Bariire and Awdhigle bases, without giving a precise number.
The army sent in reinforcements from other stations, who killed an unidentified number of attackers in the ensuing fight, he added. The army was now in control of both bases and the surrounding areas.