At least seven Kenyan soldiers were killed and two others seriously injured after a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) targeted a military vehicle near the Somali town of Dhobley near the border with Kenya, witnesses and officials say.
The vehicle was in a convoy on patrol when it was hit by the IED, causing a massive explosion, witnesses said.
A Somali military official who did not want to be named said he saw the bodies of seven Kenyan soldiers and two others badly injured in the explosion. The officer said the IED tore apart the vehicle, killing the soldiers instantly.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed killing 15 soldiers in the explosion. Kenyan military officials could not be reached for comment.
Witnesses put the number of casualties higher. A resident in the area said the explosion affected two vehicles and the death toll is more than 10, with several other soldiers injured.
The convoy was part of the Kenya military serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia known as AMISOM. The vehicles were on their way to a military base in Dhobley in Somalia’s Lower Jubba region.
Last week, seven Somali government soldiers were killed in the same area in an IED explosion that destroyed their vehicle.
IEDs increasingly have been the weapons of choice for al-Shabab, according to military experts. The group frequently targets Somali and AMISOM military convoys with IEDs as part of their deadly ambushes on supply routes in south-central Somalia.