MOGADISHU, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Somali forces on Monday night killed two al-Shabab extremists during confrontation in the southern region of Middle Shabelle, officials said on Tuesday.
A police officer who declined to be named told Xinhua that the militants attacked Bal'ad town which was 30 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, but were overpowered.
"They (al-Shabab) attacked our bases in the town but our forces have managed to foil their attempt and inflicted them heavy casualties killing two of them during the fighting," the officer said.
He added that Somali forces are in full control of Bal'ad denying the claims of al-Shabab that they took over the town.
Residents reported sporadic fighting amid sustained gunfire. "We woke up with the sound of gun fire, we were in fear and panic the whole night," Idman Aways, a local resident told Xinhua by phone.
The incident comes a day after al-Shabab militants captured Dhanane town along the coast road in Lower Shabelle region after the government forces withdrew for unpaid salary of two months.
Al-Qaida allied group al-Shabab claimed that they had launched an overnight attack on Bal'ad, capturing the town for a while before setting combat vehicles on fire.