January 26, 2016 / 2:13 PM / 2 years ago

Kenyan troops abandon Somali camp to al Shabaab militants

Replicas of guns and helmets are placed on the ground to symbolize Kenyan soldiers serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) who were killed during an attack, at a memorial vigil within the "Freedom Corner" in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 22, 2016.Thomas Mukoya

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Kenyan soldiers have abandoned a camp in the southern Somali town of El Adde following an attack by al Shabaab, a military spokesman said, and the islamist militants said they had taken full control of the base on Tuesday.

The Kenyan troops, part of an African Union (AU) force in Somalia (AMISOM), took heavy losses when al Shabaab launched a dawn raid on the camp near the Kenyan border on Jan. 15.

David Obonyo, spokesman for the Kenya Defence Forces, said the troops had vacated the camp, and were now stationed nearby.

Al Shabaab, which has links to al Qaeda and seeks to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed government, said it had killed more than 100 soldiers in the attack. The militants are seeking to drive the AU force out of Somalia.

Kenyan officials have not yet revealed the death toll but newspaper pictures of coffins draped with Kenyan flags bringing back dead soldiers has increased pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta and his military chiefs.

Al Shabaab has inflated casualty figures in the past, while other official estimates often play down numbers.

In a statement, al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, said the group was now in control of the town.

"This morning we peacefully captured El Adde," he told Reuters, in a claim that was echoed by local residents.

Kenyan officials have not yet revealed the death toll but newspaper pictures of coffins draped with Kenyan flags bringing back dead soldiers has increased pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta and his military chiefs.

Reporting by Feisal Omar and Duncan Miriri; writing by Edith Honan; editing by Ralph Boulton

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