At least five people were killed Monday in southern Somalia including a district police commander after al-Shabaab guerrillas attacked and captured a district near Baidoa, seat of Somalia’s interim parliament.
The al-Shabaab fighters snuck into Buurhakaba town, 60km from Baidoa, during Sunday night, where they shot and killed district police commander Mohamed Yakub, sources said.
The fighters took control of the Buurhakaba police station, released all the prisoners inside and confiscated materials, including weapons.
Buurhakaba residents awoke Monday morning to find al-Shabaab gunmen inside the town, local said.
The guerrillas withdrew from the town after receiving word that a contingent of Somali-Ethiopian troops had left Baidoa and was heading towards Buurhakaba. The government troops were accompanied by Abdifatah Gessey, the new governor of Bay region.
A 30-minute battle erupted in the outskirts of Buurhakaba between Somali-Ethiopian soldiers and al-Shabaab fighters, with at least four people reported dead.
All four victims belong to the al-Shabaab group, according to eyewitness reports.
Governor Gessey told Buurhakaba’s terrified residents that the government is in control of the district.
Buurhakaba becomes the second district in Bay region where al-Shabaab briefly seized control in the past two weeks.
Somalia’s interim government is attempting to restore central rule with Ethiopian military backing. But Islamist fighters, including al-Shabaab, have vowed to expel the Ethiopian army from Somali soil and reestablish an Islamic government in the country.