Al Shabaab militants have attacked a military base near Somalia’s southern port city of Kismayu early on Sunday, a military officer said.

Mohamed Isa, a military officer, said that he did not immediately have details of any casualties.

“We understand al Shabaab attacked the base and fierce fighting and a blast occurred, but still we have no details,” Isa told Reuters from Kismayu.

Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack, saying 26 Somali soldiers had been killed in the attack. However, this could not be confirmed by other sources.

Al Shabaab is a militant group linked to al-Qaeda, and is active in Somalia.

The attack targeted a base in the village of Bala Gudad, near Kismayu.

According to residents in Bala Gudad, an explosion was heard followed by an exchange of gunfire. The incident took place after the first Muslim prayer of the day.

“This morning, we stormed the Jubaland base near Bula Gudud. We killed 26 soldiers and burnt two cars,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman, told Reuters.

The insurgents left the area after taking weapons, ammunition and vehicles, he added.

State radio also reported that the base had been attacked by militants but said casualties were not yet known.