Security forces killed 87 members of jihadist group al-Shabaab after they stormed a military base in Somalia’s south, deputy information minister Aden Ali said Monday.

Ali, making the announcement on state-owned news agency SONNA, did not disclose how many soldiers were killed in the battle near the port city of Kismayo in the Lower Juba region.

Earlier on Monday, a senior military official from the region, Mukhtar Mohamed, had placed the death toll at 15, including 10 al-Shabaab militants and five Somali soldiers.

“The attack began when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into the entrance of the base, and then it was followed by heavily armed militants from different directions,” said Mohamed.

“Following an hours-long assault by militants, our troops were able to repel them out of the area,” Mohamed added.

Al-Shabaab later claimed on pro-insurgent Radio Andalus that they had killed 27 soldiers at the base.

The base is staffed by regional forces and some Somali elite forces trained and funded by the United States government.

The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group is fighting to topple the country’s government and establish an Islamist state based on its strict interpretation of Islamic law.(dpa/NAN)