(VOA) - At least four Somali soldiers were killed and more than 10 others were wounded when al-Shabab militants stormed a military base in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia, witnesses said Saturday.
The militants began the raid at midnight on the Bali-Khadar base near the Galgala mountains of the Bari region. Sources said the Puntland soldiers stationed there were forced to retreat, but later recaptured the base from the militants.
Sources say scores of heavily armed al-Shabab militants carried out the raid on the base as they burned a number of military vehicles.
According to witnesses, at least four soldiers were killed in the raid, but al-Shabab claimed to have killed at least eight soldiers.
Abdullahi “Quraan Jecel” Mohamed, spokesperson for the Puntland administration, told VOA the al-Shabab claim is false, and that two soldiers were killed in the attack. The spokesperson also said 10 militants died when an IED they planted near the base exploded minutes before the assault started.
The Puntland regional government has accused Somaliland, the breakaway republic, of being involved in the attack on its military base, a claim VOA can not verify.
Both Puntland and Somaliland have been engaged in various military confrontations after recently clashing over land ownership in the northern Sool region.
Galgala is a chain of mountains in Puntland in northern Somalia where al-Shabab militants and pockets of ISIS fighters have been battling regional forces for several years.
Meanwhile, Somalia government soldiers recaptured the town of Moqokori Saturday in the central Hiran region, hours after it had fallen into the hands of al-Shabab fighters.
Residents says both sides engaged in fierce fighting Friday that resulted in an unknown number of deaths. Al-Shabab claimed to have killed more than 40 soldiers in Moqokori.
The jihadist al-Shabab group often steps up attacks and raid against government facilities during the holy month of Ramadan. The group conducted a similar attack on a military base in Puntland during Ramadan last year, killing more than 50 Somali soldiers.