Somalia: Five dead as residents battle al-Shabaab militants

Published: November 20, 2014

Member of Somalia's al Shabaab militant group sits during a public demonstration to announce their integration with al Qaeda, in Elasha, south of the capital MogadishuAt least five people have died in a fierce battle between local residents and militants from the extremist group al-Shabaab in Central Somalia on Thursday, witnesses confirm.

Fighters from the Islamist group attacked the town to demand for funds, but residents declined and took up arms against the militants, said one of the witnesses who refused to be named.

Gunfire could be heard in several places of the town from early morning, another resident said. Hospital officials were not immediately available to give details of any further casualties.

‘’ Three al-Shabaab fighters died during the battle and one of the residents,’’ he added.

Business places in the village remained closed while armed residents and al-Shabaab took their dispute to the streets. Similar clashes are increasingly reported in recent weeks as al-Shabaab struggles to retain public support and assert its control over the territories it occupies.

Al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has come under pressure from the AMISOM troops and Somali national army, losing all their major strongholds in Southern Somalia. The group now only controls remote areas.

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