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Kenyan Troops Kill al-Shabaab Militants in Deadly Firefight in Somalia

Kenya's military announced that its soldiers struck a group of al-Shabaab fighters near the Kenyan border in western Somalia, killing 21 militants.
A Kenya Defense Force soldier runs for cover near the perimeter wall fending off an al-Shabaab attack in Kenya in 2015. (Photo by Noor Khamis/Reuters)

Kenya's military said on Wednesday that it had killed 21 al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia, which has repeatedly struck civilian targets inside Kenya.

The Kenyan troops, which are in Somalia as part of an African Union (AU) deployment to defeat the hardline Islamist militant group, clashed with al-Shabaab fighters near the Kenyan border in the west of the country, according to a statement from Kenya Defense Forces spokesperson David Obonyo.

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Al-Shabaab spokesperson Abdiasis abu Musab said that its fighters had killed five soldiers, wounded eight, and burned a military vehicle in the fighting. The reports could not be independently verified.

Obonyo said the Kenyan troops suffered no casualties.

Al Shabaab controlled large parts of Somalia until 2011, when it was driven out of Mogadishu by AU and Somali troops. The group still maintains some rural areas and carries out frequent attacks in the capital and other areas in its attempt to dislodge the Western-backed government.

The group killed 148 students at Garissa University in northeast Kenya in April 2015, the worst militant attack in the country in almost two decades. An al-Shabaab attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi in September 2013 killed 67 people.

This past January, Kenyan troops took heavy losses when al-Shabaab made a dawn raid on their camp in El Adde near the Kenyan border. Al-Shabaab said it killed more than 100 soldiers. Kenya did not provide an exact casualty figure.

The group also carried out several violent assaults in Somalia in February, including a bombing at the end of the month at a busy junction and a nearby restaurant in the town of Baidoa, killing as many as 55 people. Just two days earlier, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a deadly park bombing and an attack at the nearby Somali Youth League hotel. A mortar shell attack also occurred near the presidential palace that month, and a suicide bomber linked to the group detonated a bomb on a plane departing from Mogadishu's international airport. The bomber was killed and blew a hole in the plane, but it did not crash.

The United States has about 50 military personnel inside Somalia and has carried out several air strikes against al-Shabaab in recent months, including a strike on a senior al-Shabaab leader in April and another on a training camp in March that killed some 150 fighters.

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