The attack began with a blast at Af-Urur camp, said Ahmed Mohamed, a senior military official. The terrorists overran the base and killed the soldiers at close range, he added. The military base was attacked by terrorists, including suicide bombers, from three directions, the Al-Jazeera report said.

Mohamed said close 70 people were killed, however, the exact toll was not yet available. Through its own Shahada News Agency, al-Shabab claimed that it killed 61 soldiers. Many of the dead were reportedly beheaded, reported The Washington Post.

The attack is being called the region’s deadliest attack in years. “The situation is grim over there. This attack was an unexpected one,” Mohamed said. The attack is being seen as retaliation to the recent death sentence granted to five al-Shabab fighters, who were found driving a truck laden with explosives through the region’s biggest city, Bosaso, in late April.