Al-Shabab militants launched deadly attacks on Somali government troops in the Awdigle district and Mubarak village in the Lower Shabelle region, south of the capital on Friday evening, Reuters has reported.
Lower Shabelle governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nor Sidii said al-Shabab militants attacked the four villages of Awdheegle, Mubaarak, Dameeri and Shaam on Friday night.
"They attacked the villages last night and heavy fighting broke out. At least 40 rebels were killed but unfortunately, we lost a senior military commander in the fight," Sidii said.
"We did not sleep last night because they exchanged shells and gunfire throughout the night," resident Afrah Hussein told Reuters from the Awdigle district, adding he had counted 17 dead but could not say if they were soldiers or militants.
Somali military sources later announced that 18 al-Shabab fighters had been killed in the clashes.
Hassan Kassim, a resident in Mubarak village, said he saw seven killed from both sides.
Al-Shabab's military operations spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters the group's fighters had killed 25 soldiers, 18 in Awdigle and seven in Mubarak. He gave no information about the loss of al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab militants who want to divide the government into small pieces, were pushed back by Somali government troops and the African Union group, but they [al-Shabab] still launch attacks on south Somalia.