At least 20 killed in clashes in Somalia
At least 20 people were killed in fierce fighting between Al-Shabaab fighters and loyalists of the former group's leader Mukhtar Robow in Somalia's southwestern region of Bakool Wednesday, authorities have said.
The fighting which started midday lasted into the evening with reports of casualties emerging from both sides even as the SouthWest state administration said it was readying to extend its support to the former Al-Shabaab leader.
SouthWest state (which encompasses the Bakool region) acting president Mohamed Hassan Fiqi told reporters that fighting had claimed several lives noting the Robow allied fighters managed to repulse the group.
"Forces loyal to Muktar Robow pushed the Al-Shabaab fighters out after several hours of fighting. Many people were killed," Fiqi said on Thursday.
Officials in the area said the fighting resulted in the death of at least 15 Al-Shabaab fighters and five others from Robow's camp.
Separately, South West state spokesperson said the state forces were ready to support the former Al-Shabaab defector.
"Our forces are on standby to offer support to Robow," Nuradin Ga'ma, the presidential spokesman told Xinhua.
Al-Shabaab has severally issued orders to Robow to return but Robow has remained adamant.
There has been buildups of possible Al-Shabaab attacks on Robow and his group. Robow defected from Al-Shabaab where he served as second in command in 2013.