Al-Shabaab militants captured a town in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region on Thursday, a senior official said.
While the group said it had killed at least 61 soldiers in the fighting, the military confirmed that Al-Shabaab killed 20.
“It was heavy fighting. We lost 20 soldiers and 14 of our military cars were burnt.
“We have now retaken the town,” Major Mohamed Abdi, a Puntland military officer, told Reuters by phone.
“Al Shabaab attacked Af Urur town this morning. There were few soldiers there and thus al Shabaab captured the town.
“It is difficult to know the casualties because the telecommunications were cut off,” Bari region governor Yusuf Mohamed told Reuters.
The al Qaeda-linked group said it had also killed 61 soldiers after overrunning a military base in the town.
“The number could rise since the operation is still underway,” Abdiasis AMusab, Al-Shabaab’s military spokesman said in a statement.
Musab said their fighters had also seized weapons and vehicles from the base.
Al Shabaab’s insurgency aims to drive out African Union peacekeepers, topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose its strict version of Islam on the Horn of Africa state.