Witnesses in southwestern Somalia say fighting between government troops and Islamist militants has killed at least 14 people.

The clash broke out Wednesday in the Bakool region, after government troops attacked a base belonging to the al-Shabab militant group in the Rabdhure district.

Heavy gunfire was exchanged and at least one vehicle was burned.  Another vehicle was reported to have been captured by the militants.

Al-Shabab controls much of southern and central Somalia after a two-year insurgency, and has moved to impose its own strict form of Islamic law in areas under its control.

Last week, Somalia's cabinet voted to make Sharia the basis of Somalia's legal system, in an effort to appease the insurgents.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.