Fighting between al-Shabab and government and African Union (AU) troops in the central Hiran region has left 18 people dead on both sides, the Somalian armed group has said.
Al-Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told the AFP news agency on Saturday that the deaths occurred after the group’s fighters attacked a base of the AU force in Buloburde town, about 200km north of the capital Mogadishu.
The casualties could not be immediately confirmed, but the al-Qaeda-linked fighters said the dead included five of their own men.
The government said six al-Shabab members had been killed, but gave no figures of any casualties on their side.
War-ravaged Somalia is hurtling towards a second famine in three years that could be prevented if donors increased funding, Philippe Lazzarini, United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Somalia said on Sunday.
Lazzarini said rapidly rising malnutrition and food shortages across the country resemble the warning signs which preceded the 2011 famine in which about 260,000 people died.