NAIROBI, Dec 30 – Kenyan troops clashed with Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab militants leaving several dead, the latest casualties in weeks of dragging conflict in southern Somalia, officials and insurgents said on Friday.
One Kenyan soldier died after troops attacked a Shabaab base at Beles Qoqani some 60 kilometres (40 miles) into Somalia, killing five militants and leaving “many wounded,” said Kenyan army spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir.
However, the hardline Shabaab claimed to have ambushed Kenyan troops on Thursday with an explosive device, forcing a Kenyan armoured vehicle to stop.
“Upon stopping to survey the damage, a hail of bullets waylaid the inexperienced boys,” the insurgents said in a Twitter message, claiming to have killed 11 Kenyans but making no mention of their own casualties.
None of the casualty reports could be independently verified.
Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia in October to battle the hardline militants it blamed for a spate attacks on home soil.
The Shabaab insurgents control large parts of central and southern Somalia but are facing increasing pressure from government forces and regional armies.
The Horn of Africa country has been ravaged by a nearly uninterrupted civil war since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre sparked vicious bloodletting by rival militias fighting for power.