Al-Shabab fighters have attacked a Somali military base handed over by Kenyan forces late last month as part of an African Union troop drawdown.
Somalia regional officials said early Thursday the base in Geriley village in the Gedo region, about 12 kilometers from the Kenya border, was captured by militants.
Ibrahim Guled Adan, the district commissioner of El-Wak town, which Geriley falls under, told VOA Somali the militants seized the base after a firefight with Jubaland regional paramilitary forces.
Adan said four people — three soldiers, including two officers, and a civilian — were killed in the attack by al-Shabab.
“Today there was a fighting in Geriley between the anti-peace elements and the paramilitary forces,” he said.
He said the administration is planning to recapture Geriley.
“We are in an urgent meeting,” he said.
Geriley was handed over by African Union forces on June 29 as part of the publicized drawdown of 2,000 soldiers ahead of a full withdrawal by December 2024. The base was handed over to Somali regional forces.
Al-Shabab attempted to take over the base on July 4 but was repulsed by the regional forces.
The capture of Geriley could pose a security threat to Kenya because it’s close to the border. Al-Shabab attacks in the northeastern and coastal regions of Kenya have increased recently.
Meanwhile, the Jubaland regional intelligence agency said that security forces conducted an operation in the vicinity of Welmarow village on Wednesday evening, killing 17 al-Shabab militants.
The agency published purported photos of the dead militants.
Without providing evidence, the agency alleged that some of the militants killed in the operation included Kenyans and Ethiopian al-Shabab fighters.
Somali troops and al-Shabab militants already clashed twice this week in the Welmarow area.
On July 11, several regional forces were killed in an al-Shabab suicide car bomb while they conducted an operation. Two days earlier, Somali troops were conducting an operation when al-Shabab militants engaged them, an incident which prompted a request for air support by the Somali government.
The U.S. military in Africa then carried out three airstrikes, killing 10 al-Shabab militants.