MOGADISHU, Somalia — At least ten people have been killed, and scores were wounded in heavy fighting between Al Shabaab Islamist militants and government forces in a town near the Somali capital, Mogadishu on Monday.
The combat erupted after Al Shabaab insurgents launched a dawn offensive against Somali military bases at Muuri town, sparking deadly clashes between the two sides, according to Ahmed Hassan, a local resident who spoke to ArmedPolitics by phone.
A spokesman for the Al Shabaab Islamist insurgent group, Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Musab, said the group had captured a key checkpoint in the town, which lies on a main road leading west out of Mogadishu.
In the early morning, he said, Al Shabaab fighters took full control of the area from apostates. He said the insurgents killed several soldiers, seized weapons and three vehicles from government forces’ base.
At least ten people, including unarmed civilians were killed, while 24 others were wounded in gunfight between Somali government forces and the Al Qaeda-aligned Al Shabaab fighters, the resident said.
Somali troops withdrew from the town after they were overpowered by Al Shabaab fighters, who briefly seized the area, lectured residents, and hoisted their black flag on government administrative buildings.
After hours in control, Al Shabaab fighters pulled out of the city, allowing the Somali troops to come back and retake control without a battle. The militants burnt down several houses before their retreat.
Al Shabaab militants have increased their attacks on government-controlled areas in south and central Somalia, including Mogadishu in the past few months as the east Africa country is approaching a crucial parliamentary and presidential election scheduled on November 30, 2016.
(Reporting by Omar Nor; Editing by Robyn Hunter & Dejan S. )