Deadly gun battle between Somali government troops bolstered by local clan militias and Al-Shabaab fighters rocked the central Somalia region of Hiran on Wednesday, Ministry of Information and insurgents confirmed.
The fighting came after heavily-armed militants attacked three military bases in the villages of Yasoman and Bero-yabal on the outskirts of the town of Buloburde in the restive central region.
Al-Shabaab’s military spokesman Abu Musab said at least 117 soldiers and clan militias had been killed and 9 military vehicles had been seized. Insurgents destroyed 6 vehicles and were still in control of the attacked bases, he added.
Somali Ministry of Information, in a statement, stressed that security forces had repelled an assault on military camps in Yasoman and killed 20 militants. It admitted that 3 soldiers died as a result of the daring attack.
There have been unconfirmed reports of an air strike targeting Somali security forces, who were making preparations to launch a counter-attack on Al-Shabaab, but there have no immediate details on casualties. Somaliguardian has not been able to verify the report and claims by both sides independently.
Militants had earlier reversed gains made by security forces in the central region over the past weeks recapturing the key towns of Moqokori, Bo’o and Nur Fanah, in what politicians from the region blamed on the little resources allocated for the operation and refusal by other clans to join the mobilization against Al-Shabaab.
A military offensive on Al-Shabaab in the neighboring region of Middle Shabelle, which was promised by the government, has yet to gather pace despite dozens of military vehicles sent from Mogadishu to the town of Adale.
In the central region of Galgadud, clan militias and security forces have stopped operations and returned to the barracks amid reported negotiations between clan leaders and militants.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected in May, had earlier vowed an all-out war against the Al-Qaeda affiliate. Pro-government religious scholars, MPs and other politicians warned that arming clan militias for a showdown with militants could plunge the country into further chaos but proponents of the effort labeled those who made such a suggestion Al-Shabaab sympathizers.