World Bulletin/News Desk
Fierce clashes were raging Sunday morning between Somali government troops, backed by African peacekeepers, and Al-Shabaab militants in two southern towns, according to eyewitnesses and security officials.
The fighting broke out near the city of Burdhubo, located some 30km from the Kenyan border, a security official told Anadolu Agency, requesting anonymity.
He added that the Somali troops, backed by forces from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), have intensified their attacks to capture the area before marching on the nearby Bartire city, Al-Shabaab's stronghold in the southern Gedo region.
The official declined to talk about casualties resulting from the ongoing clashes.
Many residents have already fled the area because of the fighting, according to eyewitnesses.
Witnesses had earlier told AA three people were killed in clashes between the troops and Al-Shabaab militants in the southern Lower Shebelle region late Friday.
The Somali government has unleashed a major offensive to flush out the militant group from areas under its control.
Al-Shabaab continues to control several towns in the southeastern Lower Shebelle region.
In November, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed that 2014 would witness the end of the militant group.
Somalia has remained in the grip of on-again, off-again violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.
The country had appeared to inch closer to stability with the recent installation of a new government and the intervention of African Union troops tasked with combatting Al-Shabaab.
Last Mod: 09 Mart 2014, 10:29