AU troops, Al-Shabaab clash in south-central Somali town

A deadly gun battle between heavily armed Al-Shabaab fighters and Djibouti peace keeping forces serving under AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) troops erupted in the outskirts of Jalalaqsi, an agricultural town in Somalia’s Hiiraan region on Saturday, 8th June.

According to a resident, the fighting began when armed fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group, Al-Shabaab, launched an ambush attack on a military convoy carrying Djibouti peacekeeping forces near Jalalaqsi town in Hiiraan region.

The fighting, which lasted for at least one hour, has resulted in casualties on both sides, a military officer in the town who requested anonymity confirmed.

“I have seen several wounded AMISOM soldiers and a number of bodies of dead Al-Shabaab militants at the scene of the attack,” he said.

On Saturday afternoon, Al-Shabaab claimed, through its websites, to have killed at least 13 Djiboutian soldiers in the attack and burnt an armoured vehicle.

Meanwhile, military commanders of the Somali government in the town refuted the claims made by Al-Shabaab militants, saying that the attack only wounded six peacekeeping forces from Djibouti.

On Sunday morning (9th June), Somali security forces, together with Djiboutian peacekeeping forces, carried out security operations in Jalalaqsi town to arrest suspects linked to Al-Shabaab.

During the door-to-door operations in the town, at least 30 people suspected to be members of Al-Shabaab fighters were arrested, a resident has said.

For more than a decade, the Somali-based militant group, Al-Shabaab, have been fighting to topple the government.

The group fled positions they once held in Mogadishu in 2011, and have since lost many of their strongholds. However, they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against AMISOM peace keeping forces and UN-backed government troops in many parts of the Horn of Africa country.