MOGADISHU : Somalia’s hardline militants said they fought intense battles Saturday with government and African Union troops in the central Hiran region that left 18 people dead on both sides. Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP the deaths occurred after the group’s fighters attacked a base of the AU force in Buloburde town, some 200 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu. The casualties could not be immediately confirmed, but the Al-Qaeda-linked extremists said the dead included five of their own men.
‘Nine soldiers with the African Union, four of their Somali counterparts, and five mujahedeen from our Shebab were killed in the fight,’ Musab said.