Details of Sunday's deadly attack on an army base manned by Somalia National Army have emerged, exposing the threat Al-Shabaab militants poises to the region.

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Already, Al-Shabaab militants have taken responsibility for Sunday's deadly attack few kilometers South of Mogadishu amid escalating political crisis in the horn of Africa nation.

The assault began when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into the base in El Salini, 60 kilometres (37 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, at around 5:30 am local time, Al-Shabaab said.

A local elder, Ahmed Cali, told Reuters he had been woken by the sound of a huge blast followed by gunfire. 

He said that later Al-Shabaab fighters were seen leaving the base, some in trucks loaded with ammunition.

A Major in the Somali military who didn’t want to be named said the military has sustained some casualties, without giving details. He said the army had received reinforcements and was back in control of the base.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the assault and said they had killed 23 soldiers, the highest in the recent past.

“A mujahid driving a suicide car bomb first hit the base and then armed mujahideen stormed the base, we killed 23 military soldiers,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman.

He added the fighters had taken military vehicles and weapons from the base, including anti-aircraft guns.

It's not the first time the militants are attacking a military base. In 2016, at least 200 KDF soldiers were killed at El Adde. A year later, KDF also lost over 70 soldiers at Kulbiyow.

Many SNA officers have been killed also in such manner. The attack comes amid ongoing crisis between President Mohamed Farmaajo and Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe.

In what could further escalate the attacks, Madobe, who is a key ally to KDF, is set for inauguration on Thursday. Federal government has suspended all flights to Mogadishu.

Also, the relationship between Kenya and Somalia has deteriorated over Indian Ocean maritime border row, a move which could lead to pullout of KDF from strategic towns in Somalia leaving the country exposed to Al-Shabaab.