Gallant Somali forces retake town from al-Shabab
London, March 19, 2019 (AltAfrica)-The Somali National Army (SNA) on Tuesday recaptured Bal’ad town, 30 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, after militant group al-Shabab temporarily took over the base Monday night.
According to local residents, militants vacated areas of the town early Tuesday following hours of heavy gunfire between al-Shabab fighters and the Somali troops.
The African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) have set up a military base outside the town to help prevent further assaults from the insurgents.
“Al-Shabab entered the town and withdrew immediately after reinforcements from the Somali troops arrived in the town. We heard loud explosions and gunshots from the scene,” Xinhua News reported a local resident as saying.
There were reportedly casualties on both sides.
There was no comment from the SNA but the Al Shabaab group claimed to have captured parts of the town and burnt down combat vehicles before vacating the area.
Meanwhile, Kenyan forces with the African Union in Somalia have withdrawn from another base in the area, located near the Kenyan border.
Somali forces have also been leaving military bases in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, attributing the reason to not receiving pay or rations.
The Somali prime minister, Hassan Khayre, said soldiers were being paid, but some were not on the payroll.
Al-Shabab continues to occupy large parts of southern and central Somalia, despite an intensification of US airstrikes, and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.