Baladweyne — At least three people are reportedly killed and several others were injured on Sunday in a fierce battle between Somalia government troops backed by Ethiopian and Djibouti forces and Al shabab militants in central Somalia, reports said.
Witnesses said the fighting began at about 6:00 p.m. local time, after heavily armed Al shabab insurgents attacked on military positions inside Beledweyne and other neighborhoods controlled by the Somali government and peacekeeping troops from the African Union, mainly Djibouti forces.
"The Al shabab agents have attacked the city with mortars and rocked-propelled grenades (RPGs) and the government forces with Ethiopian and Djibouti troops repelled the attack and warded the fighters off from the area," said Abukar Ibrahim Dhakad, Somali military officer.
He added that three combatants from both warring sides have been killed during the attack.
The fighting involved heavy artillery and mortar fires which were set throughout the city before the combat started overnight between the rival sides.
There were some reports that several civilians were wounded in both government- and insurgent-held areas in the region.
Al shabab commanders are yet to release any comments on their ambush attack in Beleweyne, a town which sits just 206 miles (332 km) north of Mogadishu and fell On December 31, 2011, to the Transitional Federal Government who retook control of the city from the Al-Shabaab militants.