Scores of al-Shabab militants have been killed in Somalia as the government intensifies its clampdown on the extremist takfiri outfit following a recent terrorist attack in the Somali capital city Mogadishu.
The defense ministry said on Friday that government troops, which were reinforced by recruiting the local clan militia forces known as macawisley or “men with sarongs,” killed at least 100 al-Shabab terrorists in heavy clashes in the central Hiran region.
Defense ministry spokesman Abdullahi Ali Anod said fierce fighting between the two sides had taken place on Thursday in the villages of Garas Magan and El Hareeri.
El Hareeri is about 15 km from the strategic town Adan-yabal of Middle Shabelle province, which security forces liberated earlier this week, according to a report by Somalia’s state news agency.
Images posted to accounts linked to the national army on messaging platforms in social media showed the bodies of scores of purported al-Shabab terrorists.
However, the al-Shabab takfiri outfit claimed that its militants had killed dozens of army soldiers and macawisley fighters instead.
The group, which is linked to al-Qaeda, said only eight of their own fighters had been killed, not by the government forces, but in an airstrike they blamed on the US.
Asked about an airstrike in the region, the US military said it would respond soon. According to its website, there have been eight airstrikes in Somalia this year.
The United States military forces have conducted numerous airstrikes on civilian and militant targets in several Muslim countries. Innocent women and children, alongside suspected militants, have been the main victims of such illegal attacks which have been condemned by human rights groups and governments worldwide.
In the meantime, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud began a concerted offensive against the terrorists with support from the United States and the clan militias in August.
The Somali forces’ latest clash with the terrorists comes days after twin bombings killed at least 120 people in the capital.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for two car bombs that blew up outside the education ministry in Mogadishu on Oct. 29.
The incident was the deadliest terrorist attack in the country since a truck bomb killed more than 500 people at the same location five years ago.
The takifri group has killed tens of thousands of people since 2006 when it launched its deadly campaign by spreading terror among civilians to overthrow Somalia’s Western-backed central government.
An African Union force pushed the al-Shabab militants out of the capital in 2011, but the group still controls swathes of countryside and frequently carries out gun and bomb attacks against both civilian and military targets. Its targets include busy traffic intersections, hotels, and military bases.
The impoverished country is also in the grip of a devastating drought that has driven one million people from their homes and left the country in the shadow of famine, according to the United Nations.
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