Al-Shabaab Militants Capture Four Townships in Southern Somalia

Al-Shabaab militants briefly captured four townships in the southern Somali region of Shabelle after a fierce battle that killed dozens, before being repulsed by government forces, witnesses and officials said.

Awdhegle and Mubarak were among the towns captured after the militants overran the Somali army. According to Awdhegle residents, the fighting began this morning when heavily armed Al-Shabaab fighters attacked Somali government positions in the city, triggering a three-hour gunfight.

Sharif Bin Ali, an Awdhegle inhabitant, told Bloomberg by phone that “the militants attacked two major entry points to the city in the early hours of Saturday morning just after the first morning prayers.” He said 15 were dead, mostly government troops. Nur Tarey, another resident, said that “the ensuing gunfight lasted three hours after the militants took control.”

Lower Shabelle region governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur Siidii confirmed that the militants briefly seized the control of four towns including Awdhegle and Mubarak but were later repulsed by the Somali forces. “The militants had taken the control of four major settlements in lower Shabelle region this morning including Awdhegle and Mubarak,” Siidii told Bloomberg.

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