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By Abdi Hajji Hussein
Dhobley, Lower Jubba, Somalia
Militant Islamist group Al Shabaab launched an attack on a key government-controlled border town near Kenya, killing at least 16 people and wounding about 30 others, witnesses said.
Dhobley, a town two kilometers from the Kenyan border, came under attack from the rebel group, which had been repelled by Somali forces, Nur Ali, a military official there told All Headline News by phone.
Ali denied reports that the militants had held the town for several hours. He said most of the firefight had taken place on the outskirts of town.
Local residents said they were awakened by the intense battle, with a heavy crackling of machine gunfire and mortars shells falling inside and around the town.
"I saw with own eyes 16 people dead in the battle, mainly the combatants of two sides with a few civilians," a resident told AHN, adding that about another 30 were injured.
Reports indicated that commanders from both Al Shabaab and government forces were killed or wounded.
Government soldiers could be seen everywhere in Dhobley assuring security after the battle, he explained. Normal activity has resumed in the town.
No comments about the fighting were immediately available from the insurgents.
Early this year, Somali forces attacked the town after years of Al Shabaab control, killing at least 10 people and injuring 22. Since then, the town has been repeatedly attacked by the militants.
Al Shabaab cuts off teen's hand, foot for alleged theft
The Al Qaeda-linked group Al Shabaab cut off the right hand and left foot of a teenager as punishment for allegedly committing robbery in refugee camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu.
Pickups mounted with big speakers called the internally displaced people there to congregate at a square in Alamada area, about 19 kilometers south of Mogadishu, a witness who asked for anonymity told All Headline News by phone Thursday night.
"Crowds of people including women, children and youngsters were invited to watch the punishment of the allegedly teen," he said.
An Al Shabaab judge addressed the crowd before the punishment was administered, recited the 33rd and 38th verses of Surat Al Ma'ida in the Koran, which is about stealing, armed robbery and its related punishments.
"Mohamed Hassan, 17 years old, stole a mobile [phone] and two pistols and he was found guilty of that," the judge said.
It is not the first time the militant group conducted such sentences without full evidence.
In December, Al Shabaab, which intends to impose a harsh version of Sharia Islamic law throughout Somalia, cut off the right hand and the left foot of a young boy in central Somalia after charging him with robbing buses and trucks passing between Somalia and Ethiopia.
In Somalia's public places, alleged spies and Christians have been executed. Women accused of adultery have been beaten and stoned to death.
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World - Al Shabaab Attacks Kill 16 at Key Somali Border Town | Global Viewpoint