Fighting between Somali regional troops and al-Shabab militants Saturday left at least 22 people dead, witnesses and officials said.
The fighting in South Western Somalia started after heavily armed al-Shabab militants tried to overrun a military base in the Bay region.
A Somali government official told VOA Somali that the soldiers engaged in a fierce battle for more than six hours with the militants, who attacked the base from four directions.
"They attacked us from four directions with the aim of running over our base at around 7 a.m. local time, after five hours of fierce battle we finally warded them off and forced them to flee," said Col. Osman Nurow.
Nurow said government army forces sent from a nearby Baidoa town to reinforce the base immediately joined the battle, killing at least 14 militants.
Newly elected regional president Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed, also known as Lafta Gareen, said the regional forces lost eight soldiers in the battle.
Multiple independent witnesses contacted by VOA confirmed the government claim, saying they saw the bodies of at least 14 militants.
Goof Gaduud, a village 30km from Baidoa town of Bay region has often been a battleground for al Shabaab militants and government soldiers.
For the past two years, hardly a month has passed without militants attacking the base, which was briefly occupied and destroyed several times.