Mogadishu, Sep 30 (Xinhua/UNI) Somali military backed by African Union forces killed 20 al-Shabab militants in an offensive in the southern region of Lower Shabelle, a military official said on Monday.
Ahmed Salah Hussein, commander of Unit 66 of the 14 October brigade of Somali National Army told journalists that the offensive was carried out in the areas bordering Awdhegle town in Lower Shabelle region after the forces got reliable intelligence of the militants' presence in the area.
"We got intelligence that the militants were gathering in the outskirts of Awdhegle town to launch an attack on our base in the town and we intercepted them by shelling the area with the help from the Amisom," said Hussein.
"We killed 20 of the militants including a senior leader named Hassan Abshir Jibril," the military official added.
He noted that their forces are pursuing the rest who ran into the forest. Locals said they heard the sound of mortar shell on Saturday night.
"A number of mortar shells landed in the village causing panic among the residents. We panicked the whole night as members of the militants entered the village attempting to attack government forces in the town," Rasmi Habad, a resident told Xinhua through phone.
The latest military offensive came days after government forces killed 30 al-Shabab militants and injured 40 others in an operation in the same region.
Southern regions of Somalia have been a theater of clashes between Somali forces and al-Shabab militants after the militants were chased out from the capital Mogadishu in August 2011 by Amisom forces and Somali army.