MOGADISHU, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Somali National Army (SNA) killed five al-Shabab extremists on Thursday in an operation in central Somalia's Hiraan region, a military official confirmed.
Salah Mumin Muse, commander of 27th Unit of SNA, told journalists that the government forces launched an attack on the militants in the El Ali area in the outskirt of BeledWeyne town, inflicting casualties on the militants.
"Our forces got intelligence of the militants' presence in the area and we moved towards them. There was stiff resistance from the militants but we overpowered them, killing five of them," Mumin said.
He added that the three government soldiers got injured during the operation.
"Government army attacked al-Shabab militants in the village, both sides exchanged heavy weapons which caused casualties on the warring sides," Khalif Afrah, a resident told Xinhua via phone.
Al-Qaida allied group al-Shabab also claimed victory from Thursday's fight, saying they had killed one soldier and injured three others.
Government forces have intensified operations against al-Shabab extremists in central and southern Somalia, but the militants still hold swaths of rural areas in those regions, conducting ambushes and planting land mines.