Heavily armed suspected al-Shabab fighters ambushed Somali troops travelling in the north of the Somali capital on Saturday afternoon, killing 10 soldiers by shooting them and detonating bombs along a major high way, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab fighters have been regaining momentum in a campaign of attacks against the government and African Union forces in Middle Shabelle region where the latest attack took place.
The attack by dozens of militants took place Balad, 30 km (20 miles) north of the Somali capital. Al-Shabab fighters that continue to maintain an active military presence in the region have briefly overrun the agricultural town twice since late last year.
Soldiers were reportedly travelling to Mogadishu to participate in a new army re-registration scheme at the time of the attack, officials said.
According to military officials, the attackers have also detonated a bomb thought to be buried along the road during the ambush, sending soldiers scattered along the shrubby Mogadishu-Jowhar highway before soldiers who survived the attack launched a counterattack, forcing militants to retreat into the nearby bush area.
Subsequent ambush attacks carried out by militants have killed dozens of soldiers and officials in the region in recent months.
In June of this year, two members of the region’s lawmakers were killed along with three soldiers in an ambush claimed by the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group in Balad, the scene of the latest attack, exposing the security challenges facing the local authorities struggling to secure the region.
Similar recent attacks targeting the region’s provincial capital, Jowhar, 90km north of Mogadishu have also prompted government officials travelling to the region to reach there by air due to security concerns.
African Union troops based in the region also often receive their military logistic supplies by air.