MOGADISHU, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Somali National Army (SNA) recaptured Bal'ad town, about 30 km north of Somali capital Mogadishu on Tuesday after a temporary takeover by the militant group al-Shabab on Monday night.
Local residents said the militants vacated areas of the key town early Tuesday after hours of heavy gunfire between al-Shabab fighters and the Somali troops.
"The government forces have taken over the control of Bal'ad after heavy fighting between them and al-Shabab fighters. The town was tense overnight," said a local resident who declined to be named.
He said troops from the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) have set up a military base outside the town to help thwart assault 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," said another resident.
Sources said there were casualties on both sides.
There was no comment from the SNA but al-Qaida allied terrorist group claimed to have captured parts of the town and burnt down combat vehicles before vacating such areas.