MOGADISHU-At least 11 al-Shabab extremists were killed on Tuesday by the Somali National Army (SNA) in a security operation in the southern region of Lower Shabelle, a military officer said on Tuesday.

The operation started when the army received intelligence that the militants set up secret prisons in the outskirts of Barire town and the forces advanced targeting those areas, said Ahmed Hassan Ziyad, commander of SNA’s 143rd Unit.

“The offensive was successful, there was stiff resistance from the militants, but we overpowered them, killing 11 of them including a senior leader named Abu Abdullahi Mustaf,” Ziyad said.

He added that the army also freed locals who were confined by the militants in the secret prisons.In recent months, the government forces have intensified operations against al-Shabab militants in the southern regions where the militants hold swathes of rural areas, conducting ambushes and planting landmines.