Somalia: Gun battle near Baidoa, explosion in Baladweyne

BAIDOA/BALADWEYNE — At least ten soldiers were killed when Somali army soldiers clashed with Al Shabaab fighters earlier this week near Baidoa town, which is located about 250 km southwest of Mogadishu.

Separately, an explosive went off at a home on Thursday in Baladweyne town, located in  south-central Somalia near the border with Ethiopia, though it appears this incident was accidental.

Tuesday’s fighting erupted in Gofgadud area, 30 km from Baidoa town, after militants armed with RPGs, AK-47s and machine-guns attacked Somali military forces, killing at least four soldiers.

Somali military officer Col. Abdullahi Sheikh Mohamed said that four soldiers were killed in a gunfight against Al Shabaab insurgents while another six were killed on board a vehicle that was hit by an explosion.

“The fighting between government troops and Al Shabaab have lasted for hours and we lost at least four soldiers in the combat,” Mohamed said.

He says at least six other soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb hit one of several vehicles carrying reinforcement troops to the battle zone.

Colonel Mohamed admitted that the rebels had taken control of the Gofgadud after the military forces were overpowered by the militants, but vowed to retake the area.

“We returned to Baidoa town after the blast resulted casualties but we’ll push militants out of our army bases under its control soon,” Mohamed said.

Rebel group Al-Shabaab still controls large swathes of southern Somalia from which it launches guerrilla attacks against government troops and African Union forces’ bases.

Separately, in an incident Thursday that is not necessarily linked to Al-Shabaab, an 11-year-old boy was killed and two others wounded in a bomb explosion in Baladweyne, a town that lies some 206 miles (332 km) north of Mogadishu.

The bomb went off at house in Boco neighborhood near the town when a boy brought unexploded ordnance back to his home, killing himself, Naruro Hussein, a relative said.

“We were shocked when we heard a huge explosion in our house. The blast killed a little boy, who found it and wounded his mother and brother,” Hussein said.

She says the victims had been admitted into a hospital in the town of Baladweyne.

Police chief in Baladweyne, Nur Hassan Bidar said that police soldiers had arrived at the scene of the blast and launched an investigation relating to the explosion.

“We are making investigation on the matter… it was an IED found by a boy and exploded when he brought into the house,” Bidar said.

By Abdirizak Mohamud Tuuryare