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Some of the heaviest fighting between the hardline Islamist militia of al-Shabaab and forces from Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) broke out in Fafahdun district of Gedo region late yesterday afternoon when al-Shabaab fighters attacked the allied forces.
During the three hour firefight, the strongest that occurred in the region in recent months according to residents, the al-Shabaab militia entered the town.
“The war started 6:00 pm and went on through the evening. The fiercest fighting lasted until 9:00pm, but the bullets still didn’t stop until midnight. Nobody was aware of what was happening until the situation cooled down and al-Shabaab vehicles were sighted in the town," said Barre Gab, a resident.
Although the number of casualties remains unknown, the residents said they had seen a number of bodies from both sides throughout the town.
“It is hard to know the exact number of casualties as the war continued through the night and was difficult for the people to move out of their homes," another resident who asked not to be named told Somalia Report. The town remains tense now and residents fear another attack could happen at any time.
“Al-Shabaab attacked the town, but they were prevented from capturing the town. Now the town is in the hands of the TFG and the AMISOM forces," Ahmey, a resident from Fafahdun, told Somalia Report.
One Twitter account called ASWJ Murideen @yahyarmy2010, offered this insight during the fighting and the role of the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF), which are part of AMISOM:
"BREAKING NEWS :might b the biggest casualties ever encurred by KEBAABS since hosingo beatings FAFADUN attacks so far more than 100 killed!!"Al-Shabaab officials claimed their forces entered Fafahdun and briefly controlled it while TFG and AMISOM officials have yet to comment on the offensive.
"Several shabaab reportedly killed in FAFADUN following blind attacks on KDF mutually defended localities ITS AMAZING how KDF PERFORMING!"
At the beginning of the month of Ramadan al-Shabaab pledged to increase attacks on TFG and AMISOM in Somalia. During the weekend, al-Shabaab launched two planned attacks on the government forces in Tulo Barwaqo in Gedo region after attacking the TFG forces that were moving from Dolow to Garboharey districts. TFG forces were able to defend themselves.
The weekend attacks left at least 10 fighters from both sides dead.
President Sharif Visits Balad
Meanwhile Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed today visited the town of Balad in Middle Shabelle region for the second time since the TFG and the AMISOM forces ousted al-Shabaab fighters from the town in late June after the militants controlled it for almost three years.
The president left Mogadishu this morning with government ministers and other TFG officials, accompanied by TFG and AMISOM forces during his visit.
While in Balad, the president met with the Balad administration at the clothing factory. Many residents also attended the meeting in order to listen to the president who urged them to double their efforts to ensure security in the region.
After the meeting with the officials, the president also spoke with elders and the elites of Balad and urged them to assist the administration in restoring peace and stability in the region. President Sharif said it could only be achieved if the locals worked with the security forces.
The president also sent his heart-felt condolences to the Somali nation and the family members of the famous Somali comedian Marshale who was shot by two armed men yesterday afternoon in Mogadishu. He also condemned those who were behind the attack.