Somali Military says it has killed 69 al-Shabab Fighters

FILE - Somali National Army soldiers are seen in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia, Dec. 10, 2012. (Stuart Price / AU-UN IST / AFP)

Sixty-nine al-Shabab militants were killed in two separate military operations in south and central Somalia, Somali military officials said Thursday.

"In a joint operation conducted by the National Army, allied clan militia and international partners in the Middle Shabelle region, at least 49 militants were killed," said Brigadier General Abdullahi Ali Anod, a spokesman for the country's Ministry of Defense. Government soldiers also seized weapons from the terrorist group, he added.

The joint forces fought the militants at a farm late Wednesday, Anod said.

"We launched a surprise attack against them as they were regrouping in the farm of Sheikh Qasim near Dhagahow area under Hawadley village in the country's Middle Shabelle province," Anod said.

The farm, about 60 kilometers north of the capital, Mogadishu, was wrested from al-Shabab control in October by government forces and allied clan militias.

On Tuesday, the militants launched a deadly attack on a nearby Somali military base, killing at least seven government soldiers, including a commander.

The al-Shabab attack on the government base came a day after the government claimed a "historic victory" over the jihadis with the capture of strategic coastal towns, including Harardhere, once the main operating port for pirates hijacking ships at sea for ransom.

In a separate operation, at least 20 al-Shabab militants were killed and others were injured when Somali National Army fighters launched an attack Thursday on a militant base at Goof-Gadud village 30 kilometers north of Baidoa, the temporary administrative capital of Southwest state, officials said Thursday.

"National Army carried out the attack to preempt an attack the militants were planning to launch from this village to government forces. At least 20 militants were killed during the operation," said Hassan Abdulkadir, Southwest state minister of justice.

He said senior al-Shabab commanders were among those killed, along with five government soldiers.

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