Kenyan Army Kills 21 Al-Shabab Militants in Somalia

Kenyan soldiers in Somalia
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers during a memorial for soldiers killed fighting Islamist militants in Somalia, on January 27. The military said on Wednesday that it had killed 21 Al-Shabab fighters. Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

Kenyan soldiers killed 21 Al-Shabab fighters in Somalia on Wednesday as the military continues to battle the Islamist insurgents near the country's border.

The soldiers targeted a group of Al-Shabab jihadis in western Somalia and suffered no casualties, David Obonyo, Kenya Defense Forces spokesman, said in a statement released to Reuters.

But the group contradicted the military's claims, saying that its fighters had killed five soldiers, wounded eight and burnt a military vehicle.

Somali forces and African Union (AU) troops have forced Al-Shabab out of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and into the country's rural areas.

The group has still managed to inflict casualties on the military, ambushing one of their camps in the town of El Adde near the Kenyan border in January and claiming to have killed more than 100 Kenyan soldiers. Nairobi never offered an exact death toll.

Al-Shabab, linked to the jihadi group Al-Qaeda, has frequently attacked civilian targets in Kenya because of Nairobi's troop presence as part of a wider AU deployment in Somalia to combat the group.

The largest attack carried out by the group against Kenyan civilians in recent years occurred in April 2015 when gunmen stormed the University College in the city of Garissa, killing 148 people.

Two years earlier, the group also attacked the Westgate shopping mall, killing 67 people and leaving more than a hundred wounded.

The group, which is named 'The Youth' in Arabic, is also fighting the U.N.-backed government in Somalia. The U.S., the U.K. and the EU all designate the group as an extremist organization and it is believed to have up to 9,000 fighters in its ranks.