• Al-Shabaab, Somali army battle for strategic town

Heavy fighting broke out in Afgooye town in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region Tuesday when al-Shabaab attacked African Union and Somali security forces.

Residents said that the fighting started in the afternoon, with attacks from three directions.

One eyewitness, Hilowle Adan, said a “huge gun battle with heavy artillery fire” had rocked the town.

Four police were killed when a suicide car bomb exploded at a security station in the town just before the fighting began, Abdi Hassan, a Somali police officer in Afgooye, confirmed to Anadolu Agency by phone.

Overall, the death toll in Afgooye reached over 10 people -- including the four police officers and a senior southwestern state official.

Residents said the area was now flooded with government forces.

AMISOM tweeted later on Tuesday its forces were in control and the militants had fled north towards Marerey town, setting civilians' home ablaze as they went.

Afgooye is a strategic town located only 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu. It is a key town for the Somali government. Afgooye was liberated from al-Shabaab in 2012.

Earlier, al-Shabaab had claimed to have taken control of most of the town, including a police station and an administration office.

AMISOM spokesman Joy Kibet told Somali state-run news agency SONNA African Union peacekeeping troops were backing Somali police and army units.

“Some AMISOM forces supported the police forces in fighting with the militants during their terrorist activities,” he was quoted as saying.

Tuesday’s fighting comes two days after al-Shabaab captured a key village in Lower Shabelle region called Murri.

 

20.10.2016 09:04
Category Africa