Al Shabab Attacks Somali Towns

Members of al Shabaab, al Qaeda-linked insurgents, ride in a pick-up truck after distributing relief to famine-stricken internally displaced people at Ala Yaasir camp at Km50 outside Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 3, 2011. More than 800,000 Somalis are refugees, according to U.N. estimates, while up to 1.5 million are displaced within the Horn of Africa country. Picture taken September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

Friday, May 15

A local official in southern Somalia says al-Shabab militants have captured two government bases in the Lower Shabelle region.

Lower Shabelle Governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur told VOA Somali service that heavily armed militants launched attacks on the towns of Awdhegle and Mubarak in the early morning hours on Friday.  The sites are about 75 kilometers west of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Nur said several government soldiers were killed in the attack. He said he is mobilizing troops to retake the territory.

The attack sites were guarded by African Union troops until two months ago. As AU troops vacated the area, security responsibilities were handed over to Somali soldiers.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid an unprecedented visit to Somalia, where he said the U.S. would be willing to help build Somalia’s national army and help integrate regional forces into it.