Somali government troops and African Union soldiers take position during fighting in the district of Daynile, south of capital Mogadishu on March 30, 2012.
At least 18 people have been killed and dozens more injured in the latest surge of violence that swept a village in the southwestern Somali region of Gedo, Press TV reports.
Heavy clashes accompanied by fierce aerial bombardment erupted Monday, pitting Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters against the Somali government and Kenyan forces near El-Ade village, 12 kilometers south of Garbaharey district, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Residents say the clashes forced Kenyan fighter jets to scramble for the rescue of the ground troops and push back the Somali fighters.
“It was heavy fighting that rocked the area. Ground troops were assisted by fighter jets which bombed al-Shabab fighters in the outskirts of the village, forcing them to retreat to inside the village,” said Farah Nur, a resident in Garbaharey.
Witnesses said the majority of those killed were from al-Shabab.
However, Sheikh Yunis Abu-Zeyd, an Al-Shabab official in the Gedo region claimed fighters pushed back the advancing allied troops.
“We have repulsed the invaders, inflicted them with heavy casualties. Even with aerial support, they were unable to advance into our positions,” Abu-Zeyd said.
Garbaharey is the capital of Gedo region near the borders with Ethiopia and Kenya, and had been under al-Shabab control since 2009.
The town is currently the focus of a Kenyan military offensive in southwest Somalia.
Kenya dispatched thousands of its troops across the border into Somalia in a bid to root out al-Shabab from the border regions.
Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former junta ruler Mohamed Siad Barre.