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Somali Military: Soldiers Repel Al-Shabab Attack

Hiran, Somalia
Hiran, Somalia

Somalia's military says it has repelled an attack by al-Shabab militants on the outskirts of a town in central Somalia. Authorities said at least three soldiers were wounded in the attack.

The Somali military says the army drove back an al-Shabab attack that targeted an army base on the outskirts of Beledweyne, in the central province of Hiran.

Somali defense ministry spokesman Abdullahi Ali Anod spoke to state-run radio.

He says this morning, the enemy militia have launched an attack into the village of Buldar and the army knew they were coming and 12 of the attackers were killed and they were defeated. He says now the forces are chasing their remnants.

Anod said three soldiers were wounded during the attack that took place in the early hours of Friday.

Locals who spoke to VOA over the phone reported heavy fighting and explosions.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and said they have targeted Turkish-trained forces and killed 31 soldiers. The group also claimed to have seized military equipment including 9 military vehicles during the attack.

VOA was unable to independently verify the claims from either side.

Hiran is a region in central Somalia that has seen a spike in al-Shabab violence after local uprising against the group has gained momentum in the region.

The attack comes a day after Somalia's military said it has liberated more territory from the Islamist militants, including the strategic town of Wabho that had been under the group’s control for 15 years.

It also comes as U.S. Africa Command said Friday it had conducted a “collective self-defense strike” against al-Shabab militants some 285 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu, killing 17 militants. AFRICOM said Wednesday’s strike was made at the request of the Somali government and that no civilians were hurt.

The militants have increased their attacks since Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May and vowed an "all-out war" against al-Shabab.