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Somali army rebuffs al-Shabaab in town near Kenyan border

Monday, November 26, 2012

Al-Shabaab fighters briefly took control of a small town on the border with Kenya in a battle that left at least 12 people dead on Saturday (November 24th) before being pushed out by the Somali National Army (SNA), AFP reported.

Heavy fighting broke out late Saturday afternoon in Beled Hawo, and residents said that al-Shabaab took control of the town for several hours before Somali troops reinforced their positions.

"The violent elements attacked Beled Hawo in late afternoon and after heavy fighting our forces defeated them and inflicted heavy losses on them," said SNA commander Siyad Abdi Kalil.

Kalil said his men killed nearly 20 al-Shabaab militants, but an al-Shabaab spokesman dismissed that claim, saying his men killed 15 Somali government troops.

During the battle, dozens of Somali civilians crossed into nearby Mandera in Kenya to flee the gunfire, Mandera County Commissioner Michael ole Tialal told Sabahi, adding some returned home after the fighting subsided.

"The remaining refugees are sheltering at Border Point One near Mandera," he said. "We will be getting the exact numbers of those who fled in the coming days."

Beled Hawo returned to calm on Sunday, residents said.


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