Terrorists from Somalia’s al Shabaab militant group has attacked a town north of the country’s capital, Mogadishu, killing seven people as they battled government security forces.
The attack was said to have happened amid a political dispute between Somalia’s president and prime minister which its international partners worry has distracted the government from the fight against the insurgents.
Confirming the attack on Thursday, the Police captain, Farah Ali in Balad, north of Mogadishu, said that fighters from the al Qaeda-linked group attacked and overran government forces guarding a bridge at a town entrance early in the morning, adding that the fighters stayed briefly in the town after the attack but then left.
“Al Shabaab did not come to our station but captured the entire town in the fighting and left without patrolling, I understand there are about eight people dead including soldiers.” he said.
In the same vein, an eye witness and a shop keeper, Hassan Nur stated that five soldiers and two civilian women were killed when the terrorists attacked.
“We were in a mosque praying when a heavy exchange of gunfire took place at the bridge. Al Shabaab thus captured the town, overrunning the soldiers at the bridge,
“There were few police forces in the town. The police were missing. When the firing started people ran into their houses. I counted five dead soldiers and two civilian women,” he said.
As gathered, Al Shabaab aims to topple the government and impose a strict version of Islamic law. It often carries out bomb attacks on government targets but also on civilians. It also targets African Union peacekeeping troops.