Fighters from the al-Shabab group stormed a military base in central Somalia that the government had recaptured from them last year, killing at least seven soldiers, including the base commander

Assailants from the al-Qaeda affiliate rammed the base in the village of Hawadley with a suicide car bomb on Tuesday and then opened fire,

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying it had killed “many apostate soldiers and their commander”.

The base is located about 60km (35 miles) north of the capital, Mogadishu, and was wrested from al-Shabab’s control in October by government forces and allied clan militias.

The operation was part of a broader government offensive, which began in August and has made significant gains.

On Monday, the government announced it had captured Harardhere, an al-Shabab stronghold on the Indian Ocean coast that it had held for a decade.

As pressure on al-Shabab has grown, its fighters have struck back. They have stepped up gun and bomb attacks on the military and civilians, including in areas where they have retreated.