At least 10 soldiers were killed and several wounded in an al-Shabaab attack on a military base in Somalia's Middle Shabelle region on Tuesday morning.
The deadly assault on a base in Hawadley, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, began with a suicide car bombing, according to Ahmed Ibrahim, a security official in the area.
"There was heavy fighting between the army and the terrorists. The death toll could rise," he told Anadolu.
Local clan militias who are supporting the Somali military's anti-terrorism efforts are also housed at the base, he said.
Among the 10 confirmed fatalities so far is Col. Abshir Mahmud Mohamed, a battalion commander of the Somali army, according to Ibrahim.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which came a day after the al-Qaeda affiliate lost control of the strategic towns of Haradhere and Galcad in the central Galmudug state.
The terror group claimed to have killed 63 soldiers, including a senior military commander, in the assault.
The Somali army, backed by local militias, has been engaged in a sweeping offensive against al-Shabaab since last year after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared "all-out war" on the terrorist group.
Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS being among the main threats.
The UN has warned of growing instability in the country, issuing periodic reports last year that detailed attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS terror groups.
There were at least 1,518 civilian casualties – 651 killed and 867 injured – in terror attacks in Somalia in 2018, followed by 1,459 – 591 killed and 868 injured – in 2019, according to UN estimates.