Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked group fighting to overthrow the country’s internationally-recognised government, claimed responsibility for the morning attack.
The military officer told Reuters news agency that the bombs exploded outside the base in Awdheegle, an agricultural district along the Shabelle River, 70km southwest of the capital, Mogadishu.
“The military base is surrounded with heavy sandbags. The two car bombs were fired at and so exploded outside the base,” Captain Hussein Ali, a military officer in another town in the same region, told Reuters.
Al-Shabab claimed that it had killed 50 soldiers and that two of its fighters had died in the attack.
The group and government officials tend to give sharply differing casualty figures for attacks.