Bal’ad: Somali Militants Capture Strategic Town near the Capital

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Heavily armed Somali militants took over control of the strategic town of Bal’ad, some 30km north of the capital Mogadishu following fierce clashes with government troops, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Fighters of the militant Islamist group Al-Shabaab stormed government headquarters and central prison of the town where gunfight with security forces broke out that lasted for more than half an hour, residents said.

Government troops retreated to safety and took refuge inside AMISOM base outside the town after militants took over control of Bal’ad district headquarters.

Militants entered the town’s central prison and freed inmates who were held inside after they dispersed guards.

What did local officials say about the attack?

Bal’ad district officials confirmed the attack but said casualties were not immediately known.

Somali government troops have retaken the town after the Islamist militants withdrew. Several explosive devices have been removed that were planted inside district headquarters.

How did Al-Shabaab militants seize the town?

According to local officials, heavily armed fighters of the militant group Al-Shabaab crossed Shabelle River by boats to enter the town early on Tuesday morning before carrying out a surprise attack targeting troops.

The group often targets the town with surprise dawn attacks and takes over its control with no trouble.

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