MOGADISHU, Somalia, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Kenyan troops pulled out of two bases in southern Somalia Tuesday following recent attacks by al-Shabab militants.
Quoting local residents and officials, the BBC reported the troops withdrew from the towns of Badhadhe and el-Adde.
The Islamist militants said they killed about 100 Kenyan troops in an attack against el-Adde earlier this month, and a local MP said al-Shabab seized control of Badhadhe after Kenyan troops retreated.
A Kenyan army spokesman denied troops had withdrawn and instead characterized the movement as a "normal operational maneuver."
"Nobody says we must be in that camp," the BBC quoted Col. David Obonyo as saying. "We can operate from another site."
Reports last week suggested the Kenyan military recaptured el-Adde without a fight after al-Shabab fighters dissolved into surrounding rural areas. The Kenyan government has not confirmed how many troops were killed in the initial militant assault on the town.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed last week to bring al-Shabab to justice, saying the militants would "pay heavily for their crime."
"Our soldiers did not die in vain," he said during a national radio broadcast.
Al-Shabab is an al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militant group based in Somalia. It has been known to conduct attacks across the border in neighboring Kenya, including the 2013 assault on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and an attack against Garissa University College last year.
Kenyan forces comprise 4,000 of 22,000 troops in an African Union coalition fighting the group in Somalia.