Mogadishu, May 15 (IANS) The Al Shabaab militant group has recaptured two towns under government control in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, authorities said on Friday.
“I can confirm to you that as of now the two towns are under Al Shabaab control. We lost six of our soldiers and several others were wounded,” said Sidi.
Residents in hiding told Xinhua there was heavy gunfire in the towns at night and they learnt Al Shabaab had taken over the two towns.
“We were asleep when suddenly heavy gunfight broke out. We had to run from our home for fear of being attacked,” said one of the residents.
Early Friday, Governor Sidi said government troops were getting ready to recapture the two towns.
“We are waiting for reinforcements from Mogadishu and we are confident our forces will retake the two towns,” said Sidi.
In a quick rejoinder, Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, noting that they were fully in charge of the two towns and would soon advance to recapture neighbouring towns.
Major areas of Lower Shabelle region were liberated last year in a joint operation of Somali National Army and African Union-backed force, AMISOM.
However, there have been concerns that the towns could still fall under Al Shabaab because of lack of a strong police force to oversee the liberated areas.