WASHINGTON - Al-Shabab militants overran two small military camps outside Mogadishu in a dawn attack early Sunday morning, residents and military sources say.
Residents in Tihsile and Warmahan villages, 45 kilometers and 60 kilometers west of Mogadishu respectively said the militants attacked government troops in two camps in simultaneous attacks.
Military sources estimated that about 40-50 government soldiers were stationed in each of the two camps.
At least two soldiers were killed in Tihsile, while casualties from Warmahan are not yet known.
A reinforcement convoy sent from Ballidogle military base was hit by a roadside explosion near the town of Wanlaweyn, 90 kilometers west of Mogadishu, military sources tell VOA Somali.
The deputy commander of the 6th Division and a second military officer were among four killed in the roadside explosion, military sources have confirmed. Eight other soldiers were wounded in the explosion.
The explosion on the convoy occurred just before sunrise as the troops headed towards Tihsile and Warmahan to reinforce government troops under attack.
Residents in the villages believe most of the government soldiers in the two camps escaped unharmed. The militants have now reportedly withdrawn from the villages.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed its militias seized ammunitions and two military vehicles.
Meanwhile, late Saturday two government soldiers were killed near the town of El-Wak in Gedo region after al-Shabab attacked a government checkpoint. A third wounded soldier was reportedly captured by the militants.
These are the first deadly al-Shabab attacks on government soldiers since the election of new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in Somalia Wednesday.
Government soldiers were among those who hugely welcomed the election of Farmajo in anticipation that they will be paid their salaries. When Farmajo was prime minister in 2010-2011, the soldiers were paid on time and given rations.
Al-Shabab's leadership has not yet commented on the election of the new president. Junior al-Shabab preachers, however, have spoken at mosques in Jilib and Saakow towns telling the congregations the election of Farmajo does not change their view of the Somali government.