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Somali, AU Drive al-Shabab from Town Near Coast

FILE - AMISOM soldiers rest atop armored vehicle during break on street patrol with local police, Mogadishu, Nov. 14, 2013.
Somali government and African Union forces have seized the town of el-Bur in central Somalia, the latest in a series of advances against al-Shabab militants.

The AU mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, said Wednesday that forces regained control of the town 350 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu during a three-day operation.

In a statement, AMISOM said the joint forces were "ambushed" by al-Shabab militants at several locations as they advanced toward el-Bur. It says troops "repulsed" the militants.

In an interview with VOA's Somali Service, regional deputy governor Abdihakim Abdullahi Warsame predicted al-Shabab would not be able to return to the town as it has done after previous offensives.

AMISOM says the joint forces have liberated 10 major towns since the start of an offensive against the al-Qaida-linked group last month.

On Saturday, a Somali government official said troops overpowered al-Shabab militants and regained control of Qoryoley, a town about 100 kilometers south of Mogadishu.

Four years ago, al-Shabab controlled large parts of central and southern Somalia, including most of the capital, Mogadishu.

Security forces have since pushed the militant group out of Somalia's major cities, but al-Shabab continues to launch periodic attacks, including an assault on the presidential palace in Mogadishu last month.

The African Union has more than 22,000 troops and police in Somalia as part an effort to help stabilize the country.

Some information for this report from AFP.