Somali National Army (SNA) on Wednesday killed five al-Shabab extremists in an operation in the central region of Hiran, a military official confirmed on Thursday.
Mohamed Abdullahi, commander of Unit 27 from Somali National Army said the forces conducted an operation in El Bal’ad town in Hiran region following intelligence of the militants’ presence in the area and they inflicted severe casualties on the militants. “
“Our army attacked al-Shabab militants in the town who were forcefully collecting zakawat (taxes) from the residents, there was a fierce gunfight but we defeated them,” the commander said.
“We killed five of them in the confrontation and our army recovered a large number of animals which the militants took from the locals,” he added.
Residents said there was heavy fight in the town.
“As the militants entered our town to take some taxes from the residents, they were suddenly attacked by government forces and both sides exchanged fire for a while. The army are now in the town after the militants were chased out,” Farida Hashi, a resident told Xinhua by phone.
The latest operation came barely hours after al-Shabab militants killed two government officials in an ambush in a village in the outskirts of Bal’ad town in the country’s southern region of Middle Shabelle.
Southern and central regions of Somalia have become the battle ground of clashes between Somali army and al-Shabab extremists after the militants were driven from the capital Mogadishu in August 2011 by Somali army and African Union forces.