Somalia: Al Shabab Briefly Take Over Key Border Town

Photo: Stuart Price/UN
Suspected members of Al Shabaab(file photo).

Beled-Hawo — Somalia's militants Al- Shabaab on Saturday briefly seized a strategic town in the southwestern of war-wrecked horn of Africa nation before they were pushed back by pro-government soldiers controlling the area, an official and residents said.

The rebel fighters from Al-Shabaab launched their attacks on the town of Belad-Hawo town in southwestern Somalia province of Gedo, which is controlled by Somali troops.

The radical group of Al-Shabaab took over the town following fierce battles with army who were forced out of the town, but government troops regrouped and launched a counter- attack on the militants in the strategic town of Belad-Hawo on the key road linking to the border zone with Kenya.

"We managed to push them (Al-Shabaab fighters) back. We are now in hot pursuit of them,"Diyad Abdikalil, military commander of Somali forces in Gedo, told Shabelle Media by phone from the town, adding that they have killed at least 13 Al shabab combatants during the raid.

Witnesses said the fighting has been heavy with both sides exchanging artillery and machine guns.

The Al-Shabaab fighters are currently facing major joint Kenyan and Somali government military offensive.

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