Baidoa — At least seven persons were killed on Friday in Bakool region of southern Somalia in battles between Somali government forces and Al Shabaab militants, Garowe Online reports.
Bakool Governor Mohamed Abdi Tall told local media that Somali government forces launched the attack on a location controlled by Al Shabaab, between Huddur and Wajid districts of Bakool region.
"The fighting lasted for two hours and 3 Al Shabaab members were killed," said Governor Tall, while adding that there were "casualties on our side".
Witnesses reported on Somali media that they saw seven dead bodies belonging to the fighting sides, and that Somali government forces were in control of the area.
An Al Shabaab spokesman on Mogadishu media confirmed the fighting on Friday, saying that Al Shabaab had "repulsed" an attack by government forces.
Al Shabaab official 'in talks' with Somali government
Governor Tall also stated that Muktar Robow Abu Mansur, a senior member of Al Shabaab, had "contacted" Somali government officials in Bakool region. Governor Tall said Abu Mansur is currently in El Barde area of Bakool and that he is "in talks" with government officials.
"We have agreed to fight Al Shabaab led by Ahmed Abdi Godane," said Governor Tall. Abu Mansur, along with senior Al Shabaab members including Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys who is now inside a government jail in Mogadishu, escaped Barawe coastal town of Lower Shabelle region last month after Godane sent death squads to kill them.
Governor Tall declined to mention whether or not Abu Mansur will join Somali government forces in Bakool region to fight Al Shabaab militants in the region.
Somali government in Mogadishu has not yet publicly responded to Governor Tall's claims of talks with Al Shabaab official Abu Mansur.