Security officials say at least 27 people have died in intense clashes between pro-government forces in Somalia and al-Shabab militants.
The fighting erupted late Thursday and continued into Friday in Bula Hawo, an area bordering Ethiopia and Kenya. Officials say hundreds of residents have fled into Kenya.
Government and African Union troops captured the long-time rebel stronghold earlier this week. The militants were trying to take it back, but government commanders said Friday they had been driven off.
Somalia has experienced nearly two decades of violence and lawlessness since the fall of the last stable central government.
The current government has been wracked by infighting and has stayed in power only with the strong support of AU peacekeepers.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.