Al-Shabaab Takes over Strategic Town in South Somalia

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Fighters of the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab has taken over a strategic town in south Somalia, a few weeks after US military announced it had completed withdrawal of its troops from the war-torn country.

Heavily armed militants carried out a dawn attack on a base housing Somali government troops, triggering a fierce exchange of gunfire that was heard across the town and nearby villages early on Saturday morning.

Local media reports say the militants overran base and troops withdrew to safety as fighting intensified.

African Union peacekeepers based on the outskirts of the town did not provide support to the Somali troops to parry the militant attack, reports say.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group Al-Shabaab has said it carried out the attack, claiming to have taken control of the town of Rage Elle in the Middle Shabelle region.

Somali government and Hirshabelle regional administration have not commented on the attack, but there have been reports of military maneuvers in nearby towns as preparations are underway to retake Rage Elle from militants.

Casualties from the fighting have not been immediately known and phone communications in the town have been down since the fighting erupted in the town.

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