The militant group Al Shabab attacked a Somali town in a region near Kenya's border. At least seven Somali soldiers have been killed, the group and Somali officials said.
The group, based in Somalia, has lost control of most of the cities and towns which it held in recent years, yet retains a strong hold in rural areas.
"We lost at least 7 soldiers and two vehicles," he said.
Accounts and figures given by the officials and Al Shabab often vary.
Residents and government troops said Al Shabaab had cut off communications to El Wak before the attack.
Al Shabab fighters often stage raids and then withdraw before government forces have a chance to stage counter attacks.