April 3, 2011
MOGADISHU — Pro-government forces in Somalia Sunday attacked bases of the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab militants in a southern town sparking fighting in which seven people died, officials and witnesses said.
The clashes erupted at noon on the fringes of Dhobley and continued for about five hours. Witnesses said both sides used heavy machine guns, mortars and anti-aircraft guns.
Security official Major Mohamed Farah said: “Our forces took control of Dhobley and other contested areas and we killed several of the enemy fighters.”
Witnesses in Dhobley also confirmed that the Shebab militants had lost control of the town.
“The fighting was the heaviest ever in Dhobley. It started in the outskirts but spread into town when government forces and allied militia pushed the Shebab fighters back into the town. Now the town has fallen to the government and I saw seven dead fighters,” Adan Mohamed, an elder, said by phone.
Abdulahi Jumale, another witness, gave the same death toll and said 20 other people, including civilians, were wounded.
“The dead were the combatants but civilians were also injured in the crossfire and the town is now relatively calm with the government forces and their allies controlling the area,” Jumale told AFP.
Shebab commanders confirmed the clashes but declined further comment.