Somali Army’s Battle With Al-Shabab Leaves at Least 51 Dead

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At least 51 people were killed in Somalia in fighting between troops and Al-Shabab Islamist militants late Friday near the southwestern town of Wajid, a government official said.

“Our forces attacked Elbar village which is 18 kilometers away from Wajid,” Salad Mohammed, deputy district commissioner for the area, said by phone from the town. “We managed to kill 47 fighters on the spot.”

A senior Al-Shabab was captured in the fighting in which four soldiers also died, according to Mohammed.

The al-Qaeda-linked group has waged an insurgency in the Horn of Africa nation since 2006 in a bid to impose Islamic law. While the group has lost ground since being driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 by government and African Union forces, it continues to stage deadly gun and bomb attacks.

Mo’allim Gedow, the Al-Shabab self-styled governor of the southwestern region, claimed victory in a speech on Radio Andulus, which backs the group. Five bodies of government soldiers killed by the group were on display, he said. “We show our enemies no mercy.”

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