Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said Al Shabab militants killed as many as 200 soldiers in an attack on a Kenyan military camp in Somalia last month.
"When about 200 soldiers who came to help your country are killed in one morning, it is not something trivial," Mohamud told Somali Cable TV, a privately owned station. The interview was posted on YouTube on Thursday.
"We have been winning for years and months but that El Adde battle, we were defeated. Yes, in war, sometimes something that you do not like happens to you," he said.
Kenya has rejected the figure and refused to give the exact death toll after the Jan. 15 attack, which targeted troops operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) near the southern Somali town of El Adde.
Kenya Defence Forces spokesman, Colonel David Obonyo, denied the number given by the Somali president and interrogated the source of the information.
"It is not true. This information never came from us or anyone in the government of Kenya," he told Reuters.
Coffins wrapped with Kenyan flags bringing back dead soldiers after the attack appeared on newspapers which sparked concerns from ordinary Kenyans and the opposition parties over Kenya’s recent presence in Somalia.
Al Shabab later revealed photos claiming to show the bodies of dozens of Kenyan soldiers, apparently several were shot in the head.
The militant group said it had killed more than 100 soldiers in the attack.
The Al Qaeda-linked militants have been driven out of major strongholds in Somalia by AMISOM and Somali army operations, but the group still controls some rural areas and often launches guerrilla-style attacks and bomb attacks.
Al Shabab, is seeking to drive the AU force out of Somalia, and often says its attacks against Kenyan troops are retaliation for AMISOM participation in Somalia.
Hundreds of people have been killed in Al Shabab raids in the past two years. The militant attacks in Kenya have included the attack on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in 2013 and a university in Garissa in 2015.
In 2011, Kenya deployed soldiers into Somalia following attacks in the border region and abductions that threatened the tourism industry in the regions massive economy and wider regional destablisaition. It later joined the AMISOM.