Somalia: Al-Shabaab Attacks Bal'ad Town, Middle Shabelle Region

(file photo)

Members of the hardline al Shabaab Islamist rebel group parade through the streets of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 1, 2010. Somalia's hardline Islamist rebel group al Shabaab said on Friday it was ready to send reinforcement to al Qaeda in Yemen should the U.S. carry out retaliatory strikes, and urged other Muslims to follow suit. REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR28H00

Al-Shabaab fighters have last night attacked government military bases in Bal'ad town which lies 30 KM north of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The local residents said the ambush attack prompted hours of heavy fighting between the Somali army and heavily armed Al-Shabaab fighters.

There are a variety of casualties on both sides, although it is unclear exactly what the official casualties are.

Residents reported they heard loud explosions and gunshots as Al-Shabaab fighters attacked a military base in the town.

Al-Shabaab has claimed it seized briefly parts of the town and burnt down several battle wagons.

The group is carrying out hit and run attacks in major towns under government and deadly explosions in the capital Mogadishu.

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